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.
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.
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.