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Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Toilet paper-infused asphalt

A street paving crew spreads hot asphalt on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Orinda, Calif. Dozens of cooling centers opened throughout California, schools let students out early and outdoor events were cancelled as temperatures soared from a heat wave expected to last through the Labor Day weekend. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
A street paving crew spreads hot asphalt in Orinda, Calif.

What is it? Toilet paper-infused asphalt

Innovators Dutch environmental firms CirTec and KNN Cellulose

What were they thinking? The Dutch flush 180,000 tons of toilet paper every year. Why not reuse the stuff? Well, to be honest, there are at least a couple of reasons. We’ll just call them Number One and Number Two. But a pair of enterprising environmental companies are rolling forward anyway. Using an industrial sieve, the Guardian reports, they are sifting 400 kilograms of toilet paper cellulose from the sludge at the Geestmerambacht wastewater treatment plant each day, sterilizing it, and selling it for use in asphalt and building materials.

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Did it work? It’s not clear, yet, if the two-year pilot project will be financially sustainable in the long run. But toilet paper-infused asphalt has already been used to resurface a bike path, reinforce a dyke, and repave a parking lot — proving that, with apologies to Gordon Gekko, gross can be good.