The first treatment plant to recover cellulose from used toilet paper in sewage is to open this month (June 2017) at a wastewater treatment plant (WwTW) in Holland.

In a breakthrough for Dutch company CirTec BV, the plant at Geestmerambacht WwTW will prepare about 400 kilos of cleaned and sanitised cellulose per day for use in high-quality products. Some of the cellulose is being exported to England for use as a raw material to produce bio-composite. The remaining cellulose is used for the production and development of other products.

Using its Cellvation™ process, the company has already demonstrated that it is technically possible to extract clean, marketable cellulose from sewage and make it available as a valuable raw material, in fibrous or pelletised form. One demonstration project used recycled cellulose processed with asphalt to make a bicycle path.

Cellvation™ has been developed by CirTec (formerly BWA) and KNN Cellulose BV, both of whom are active in the water sector, as well as the circular commodity market. In addition to the marketable end-product, the process also has benefits for the WwTW, which is spared the wear and maintenance problems caused by paper, and will improve its overall biological capacity and energy efficiency.

The project at Geestmerambacht is part of the Horizon2020 SMART-Plant initiative.

Photo: Harvested cellulose fibre