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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PAPERCHAIN (New market niches for the Pulp and Paper Industry waste based on circular economy approaches)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

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 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, Pulp and Paper Industry 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 industry 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 Pulp and Paper Industry 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 this sector (i.e. green liquor dregs, grits, lime mud, paper sludge fly ash, deinking paper and fibre sludge) as valuable secondary raw materials.

Project Objectives:

o To design the baseline for the circular economy models surrounding the Paper and Pulp Industry and the selected sectors.
o To implement the valorisation processes at industrial scale.
o To demonstrate the circular models at real scale in four EU countries.
o To validate the sustainability of the circular economy models.
o To carry out the certification processes, training and guidelines for the recycled solutions.
o To develop a market strategy, exploitation routes and ensure replication.

PAPERCHAIN tackles the valorisation of almost the totality of these waste streams. The project focuses on those waste streams whose current fate is mainly landfilling, such as the causticizing residuals, and those which are produced in major quantities, such as sludge or ashes. Only boiler and furnace ash has been discarded due to the low technical performance for construction applications and their potential for fertilizers, in favour of wastepaper ash, much more promising for the construction sector. Finally, pulp and paper mill rejects have not been considered directly, as they are usually destined for energy recovery.

The project will demonstrate the valorisation of the pulp and paper industry waste streams in three different ways: with no modifications (Green liquor dregs for mining applications), minimal processing (slaker grits, lime mud and waste paper ash) and under any treatments (green liquor dregs for asphalt pavements, deiking paper sludge + waste paper ash, fibre sludge).
- Study and analysis of the reference framework: Definition of the current baseline: Current waste management; status and opportunities, first approach to the business models, current barriers and drivers.
- Development of demonstration activities: Research involving waste treatment and processing, dosage studies, compliance with requirements, execution of field trials and demonstration activities for most of the circular cases. Ongoing monitoring for Circular Cases 1, 2 and 3.
- Analysis and definition of market uptake and product certification: Study of environmental performance assessment and technical certifications. The reference framework for product certification already identified. Technical requirements identified and first contacts with the verifying bodies done.
- Environmental performance of the Circular Cases through LCSA already completed for the inventory stage and fully assessed for Circular Cases 2 and 3. Environmental Technical Verification process launched.
- Exploitation and market overview of each of the five circular cases performed, including overall action roadmaps for the circular cases; characterisation, business models and strategic planning roadmaps for the Key Exploitable Results;
The expected impacts of the solution developed by the project are related with the validation of the sustainability of the circular economy models, improving the efficient use of resources and reducing the generation of residual waste. PAPERCHAIN circular model can bring benefits by the valorisation of the pulp and paper industry waste streams into each of the industrial sectors, promoving and creating new business opportunities for industries and SME in the EU.

Five different Circular Economy Models will be major developed through Real Scale demonstrators:

Construction sector
-Circular Case 1: Valorisation of paper industry’s causticizing residuals (i.e. lime mud, slaker grits and green liquor dregs) as secondary raw materials for concrete and asphalt manufacturing. (Central Portugal: Lime mud as concrete filler; slaker grits and DREGS as aggregates for asphalt pavements).
-Circular Case 2: Valorisation of deinking paper sludge and waste paper ash produced by recycling pulp mills for the rehabilitation and slope stabilization of landslides in railway lines. (Norther Spain: waste paper fly ash and bottom ash as alternative hydraulic road binders).
-Circular Case 3: Valorisation of ash produced in the energy recovery from paper waste produced by recycling pulp mills as alternative binder for soil stabilization works in road projects. (Slovenia: deinking paper ash and deinking paper sludge composite for railway applications (landslide stabilisation).

Chemical sector
-Circular Case 4: Valorisation of fibre sludge waste generated by the Pulp industry as secondary raw materials for the production of ethanol derivatives for the Chemical industry (i.e. Paints). (Central Sweden: Fibre sludge for advanced chemicals based on bioethanol).

Mining sector
-Circular Case 5: Valorisation of green liquor dregs produced by the pulp industry as reactive sealing layers for acid rock drainage mitigation in mine waste deposits. (Norther Sweden: green liquor dregs as sealing layer for mining spoil).