The Dutch Might Start Paving Roads With Toilet Paper

A country road in the Netherlands
A country road in the Netherlands | © pixabay
Tom Coggins

Since fall last year, thousands of people in Friesland, the Netherlands have been riding their bikes over asphalt made from recycled toilet paper. This unusual building material is essentially indistinguishable from regular asphalt and could potentially solve several problems at once.
The bike lane in question runs between Friesland’s provincial capital Leeuwarden and another smaller town called Stiens. This one-kilometre long tract of land has served as a testing ground for a completely new type of asphalt developed by two Dutch companies called CirTec and KNN Cellulose, which contains recycled toilet paper. While it is easy to imagine something quite off-putting, the asphalt looks totally unremarkable and consists of completely normal chemicals apart from a thickening agent called cellulose that’s derived from sewage.

The bike path in Friesland

Employing toilet paper to build roads actually kills several birds with one stone. For obvious reasons, used toilet paper is readily available and is usually incinerated rather than recycled. This type of treatment already costs municipalities a considerable amount of money and by repurposing waste into something useful local authorities could cut back on unnecessary spending. Furthermore, toilet paper is actually made from pretty high-quality fibres and destroying it only wastes valuable resources.

The asphalt has since been used to pave a parking lot in Groningen

It is almost impossible for germs to survive the high temperatures used to create the asphalt, meaning that any road paved with the mixture is completely safe and clean. Besides being ecologically and economically friendly, it is also easier to transport and pave than other types of asphalt due to cellulose’s impressive binding qualities.
Aside from the bike path in Friesland the asphalt has also been used to pave a parking lot in Groningen and strengthen a dike on the island of Ameland over the past year. While it is still early days for the mixture it is possible that it could start appearing elsewhere in the Netherlands in the near future.

The asphalt being used on Ameland
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