Dutch open first bike path made from toilet paper
The Netherlands is famous for its bike paths, now it has opened the world’s first bike path made from recycled toilet paper.
Image: GWW totaal
The bike path runs from Friesian provincial capital Leeuwarden to the town of Stiens. A consortium of local authorities and construction companies (Wetterskip Fryslân (Friesland’s water company), Province of Friesland, Stowa, Jansma & Roelofs, Esha Infra Solutions and KNN Cellulose joined forces to use the fibres from paper to make asphalt.
Every year, 180,000 tons of toilet paper is flushed down the loo. On average a ton of asphalt requires 3 kilos of fibre, the industry needs around 10 to 15 thousand tons a year. The consortium put its best minds together to set up a process to recover the cellulose from waste water so it can be added to bitumen to prevent so-called “dripping”. In other words by increasing the viscosity of the asphalt it lasts longer. This unique process is a step towards making road construction more sustainable.
At the same time, everyone benefits from the circular economy. The water company finds a profitable outlet for getting rid of its slib - normally a costly business. And for the other partners in the circle, less energy and raw materials are used and therefore costs are reduced. The consortium is planning to construct two more bike paths from toilet paper.
It’s no accident that Leeuwarden is the location for this pioneering technique as it is home to the European Technical Water Hub center WaterCampus and hosts the annual Watermatch conference.
The project Van Afval naar Asfalt is part of the Green Deal made between the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure and the Environment in 2014.