What do construction materials, cosmetics, biogas, paper, glass and flowers have in common? They are all products that have been produced or generated using residuals from drinking water treatment. These are marvellous examples of how the principles of a circular economy are practised.
TURNING RESIDUALS INTO RESOURCES
Drinking water treatment processes generate certain residuals depending on the raw water source and the treatment process applied. These residuals include, amongst others, lime pellets from softening plants, coagulation/flocculation sludges from surface water plants (ferric or aluminium based), and ferric precipitates from groundwater treatment. In most cases, these residuals are disposed of. Just for the European Union alone, the volume of these materials amounts to over 3 million tons per annum.
How can these residuals be given a second life? Upcycling involves a complicated process of matching the supply and demand of residuals on a continuous and reliable basis. The key factors include marketing, an objective assessment of supply and demand, quality assurance, legislation/permits, logistics and costs.
Residues from drinking water installations have been successfully upcycled in the Netherlands for decades. A solid reference case has been built up over the past decades, and many lessons have been learned (the do’s and don’ts of upcycling business). Moreover, several new applications for drinking water residues have been developed, as innovation is a natural part of the concept. These experiences are extremely valuable when it comes to introducing the upcycling concept in other parts of the world.
The UPcycles team is a close cooperation of Allied Waters and the Dutch company AquaMinerals which has more than 25 years of experience in upcycling residuals from the water sector. We are happy to share our experiences and participate in innovative projects in the field of upcycling in the water sector. In France, we collaborate with Seitiss SARL, and in Germany with Ecocalor. Both are highly specialized in upcycling residuals from various industries, including the water sector.
Allied Waters, driving the circular economy.