Cycling path from recycled toilet paper

Dutch people use about 180,000 tonnes of toilet paper every year, a quantity that is a lot of trees, which inspired the authorities of the Dutch province of Frize to recycle the product for the construction of a large bicycle route.

The road, about one kilometer long, is the first to be constructed of such material, and connects the capital of Frizia Lewvarden with the city of Stines. On the roads of the Netherlands, a typical bitumen that is porous and water-permeable is used to reduce slipperiness when it rains. The country has an annual rainfall of 685 to 889 milligrams a year, so this safety measure is important.

The method is effective, but there are other ways to build safe roads, as the province of Friesland has recently proved. The bicycle track was constructed using tertiary cellulose extracted from waste. CirTec and KNN Cellulose have developed the technology for extracting and cleaning cellulose fibers. The process involved separating the paper fibers from the sewage by using a 0.35mm industrial filter.

The fibers were then passed from a series of machines, which cleaned, sterilized, pollinated and dusted the material, producing a greyish product. Uses for recovered cellulose are numerous, as the product can be used for building insulation, biofuels, fabrics, paper, filters, and more. However, due to hygiene concerns, it can not legally be used in products that come in direct contact with humans. As a result, recycled toilet paper was used to build the road for bicycles. So far, city officials seem to be happy with the investment.

The success of the project has resulted in the same mixture being used to support a dyke on Ameland Island and to renovate a parking space for a Zoo in Groningen. The city of Amsterdam is now interested in using cellulose from sewage on its streets.

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