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.
PAPERCHAIN project brings in an industrial symbiosis model centered in the use of different waste streams generated by the European Pulp and Paper Industry, as valuable feedstock for three resource hungry industrial sectors: construction sector, mining sector and the chemical industry. Different waste streams are produced as a result of the manufacturing processes of the Pulp and Paper industry to produce paper, board and other cellulose-based products.
Pulp can be obtained from wood virgin fibre by chemical or mechanical means. It is also produced by the re-pulping of recycling paper which accounts for about 50 % of the fibres used and involves cleaning and deinking processes.
PAPERCHAIN tackles the valorisation of almost the totality of these PPI 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 PPI 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).

Project Objectives

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