Toilet rolls from drink cartons

Waste paper is becoming increasingly scarce and used toilet paper cannot be recycled. Award winner Van Houtum has come up with a solution to the impending raw materials shortage.

Drink cartons

Image: Van Houtum

CEO Bas Gehlen, is proud of the way in which Dutch farmers, local authorities and suppliers are working together. Drink cartons, for example, are recycled to produce toilet paper and other articles.

Cooperation

"You need this kind of cooperation to get a product like this on the market: from a Zeeland-based farm which cultivates the elephant grass to SUEZ, which looks after the supply of drinks cartons and Hedra, the organisation that encourages and supports waste collection. All players in the chain have to be working in sync."

Safe chemicals

"Is it technically feasible to produce toilet paper from these materials? And if so, does the process use safe chemicals? This was the big challenge we faced, but one which we also overcame. The drink cartons do not undergo any chemical treatment. Literally everything is used. For a large part, these cartons consist of paper fibre. The plastic and aluminium, which remains from these cartons once the fibre has been extracted, is used as a basis for plastic conversion."

They are making a major contribution to the circular economy. In 2016 they processed more than 12,000 tons of drink cartons. Coffee cups and elephant grass are also used.

Circular economy

The Dutch government has pledged to achieve a 100% circular economy by 2050. In just over one generation, the world will be inhabited by nine billion people. This will inevitably put huge pressure on resources. The Netherlands itself is densely populated, with a population density of 18% compared to 0.5% globally. Societies across the world have to switch to sustainable sources in order to feed, clothe and shelter their growing populations.

Dutch industries, knowledge institutes, and citizens in partnership with government want to lead the way, creating innovative solutions to tackle the challenges. By launching the Netherlands Circular Hotspot (NLCH) it is our intention to become a living lab, developing and sharing solutions to counter the effects of climate change. In doing so, the Netherlands aims to help leave behind a liveable earth for the next generation.