Waterschatten: Objects made from used toilet paper

The Dutch Water Authorities no longer see wastewater as just a by-product that needs to be cleaned, but as a valuable source of renewable energy, raw materials, and clean water. One of the raw materials they retrieve is used toilet paper. Studio Nienke Hoogvliet has started a project called Waterschatten (Water treasures), which consists of several objects made from toilet paper to show the possibilities of the material. After it is cleaned, of course.

In the Netherlands alone, about 180.000 tonnes of toilet paper is flushed annually. This amounts to 180.000 trees. Before this project, this toilet paper and everything that came with it was just burned, as the toilet paper could not be separated. Some of the Water Authorities have now installed fine sieve installations, which they use to reclaim toilet paper.

Toilet paper consists for the most part of cellulose. By using this again, fewer trees need to be cut down. In addition, the process of cleaning the water requires less energy.

For Waterschatten, Hoogvliet made several decorative bowls, lighting and a big table. The table has eight drawers, each of which shows a possibility of waste water. The objective of the project is to create a positive association with the material.

However, there is much more that can be done with cellulose from toilet paper, other than to make decorative objects. The material can also be used as drip inhibitor in asphalt. The first road in which this was used was built in September this year. The toilet paper could also be used as filling or as raw material in isolation. It can also be made into bioplastic or biogas.

And that’s all just from toilet paper! Wastewater contains more treasures, such as phosphate and alginate, and it can be used to generate energy. That’s money down the drain right there!