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New market niches for the Pulp and Paper Industry waste based on circular economy approaches

Project description

Pulp and paper industry waste valorisation for resource-intensive sectors

The European pulp and paper industry (PPI) holds the second position in global pulp and paper production. It consists of 920 plants and directly employs 180 000 individuals in Europe, with an additional 1.5 million jobs supported throughout the value chain. However, this sector is known for its high resource consumption. Paper-related materials account for up to 40 % of the total municipal solid waste generated worldwide annually. If managed sustainably, waste produced by the PPI can serve as a valuable source of raw material for other resource-intensive industries. To take advantage of this opportunity, the EU-funded PAPERCHAIN project has implemented five innovative circular economy models through large-scale demonstrators in real environments of the construction, chemical and mining industries.


Europe is the second world producer of pulp and paper, manufacturing 130 million tonnes in 2014 and representing 23% of world production. The EU pulp and paper manufacturing and converting industries generate an annual turnover of €180 billion, representing 1,26% of the European GDP. In particular, the Pulp and Paper industry (PPI) has a turnover of €75 billion, comprises 920 plants and provides 180,000 jobs in Europe directly, and 1.5 million in the value chain. This sector is resource intensive and produces 11 million tonnes of waste yearly . It has been found that 25-40% of municipal solid waste generated each year worldwide is paper-related. Furthermore, Europe is nowadays facing the challenge of resource scarcity and more efficient use. If managed in a sustainable manner, PPI waste can become a valuable raw material for other resource intensive industries such as the construction (i.e 5,4 billion tonnes of raw material consumption) or the chemical industry (1 billion tonnes). Mining industry waste generation is estimated at up to 20.000 million tons of solid waste yearly, and relevant part of this waste needs to be kept in environmental safety conditions, which in turn implies additional use of resources (e.g borrow materials). New widespread markets are needed to extend the valorisation operations, reduce the landfilling rates and increase the competitiveness of the PPIs creating new added value markets for their inorganic waste.
The overall objective of PAPERCHAIN is to deploy five novel circular economy models centred in the valorisation of the waste streams generated by the PPI as secondary raw material for a number of resource intensive sectors: construction sector, mining sector and chemical industry. PAPERCHAIN aims to unlock the potential of a resource efficient model based on industrial symbiosis which will demonstrate the potential of the major non-hazardous waste streams generated by the PPI as valuable secondary raw material.

Call for proposal


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Sub call



Net EU contribution
€ 723 625,00
28033 MADRID

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Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 1 033 750,00

Participants (21)