When you flush the toilet, you’re probably not thinking about bike lanes or home insulation. But that’s where your used loo roll could one day end up if a Dutch project to extract cellulose from sewage rolls out. At the Geestmerambacht wastewater treatment plant near Alkmaar in the Netherlands, a two-year pilot project is using an industrial sieve to sift 400kg of cellulose, the natural fibres found in loo roll, from toilet sludge each day.
The cellulose, which would otherwise be incinerated at the end of the sewage treatment process, is cleaned and sterilised with very high temperatures and turned into a fluffy material or pellets. These are sold on as a raw material for products like asphalt and building materials.
A portion is also exported to the UK, where Brunel University is working on technology to transform it into an energy source, bioplastic bottles and other products.
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