The German water industry goes circular: a second life for lime pellets from drinking water plants

Circular economy thinking has been growing over the past years: moving from linear towards circular use of materials. Allied Waters’ partner Ecocalor makes it happen in Germany. Following multi-year efforts, Ecocalor has developed several industrial applications for lime pellets, a by-product from drinking water treatment. And this is just a start!

The purpose of water softening is to prolong the lifespan of pipes and home appliances from scale buildup and clogging. As a result, hardness is ‘caught’ in tiny little marbles, called lime pellets. According to European and German legislation, these pellets can be considered as a by-product from drinking water treatment. For years valorization of residuals from Dutch drinking water suppliers is the core business of AquaMinerals, part of the Allied Waters team in the Collab UPcycles. Now back to Germany, initiated by Ecocalor over fifteen thousand tons of German lime pellets are finding their way to metal processing works, ceramic and glass industries.

Given these strong reference cases developing the market in Germany is not a straight copy-paste operation yet. “We’d rather speak about a multi-tasking operation: matching availability of material and the demand side, coping with all relevant legislation, and formal REACH registration are examples of a complex task”, Bernd Franken, Director of Ecocalor, comments, “Finding economically viable solutions for secondary raw materials is in the DNA of my company. I’m very pleased about the latest results and the cooperation with Allied Waters.” Hay Koppers, senior expert upcycling at Allied Waters adds “This is a first step, more candidates will be coming soon, including ferric and aluminium sludges. I highly appreciate working with German drinking water suppliers, amongst others through the national Project team on Residuals Management, as organized by DVGW, the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water.”

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