Why not save the world with waste paper? The decision-makers at the Spanish company Acciona thought something similar – and relied on paper waste as the road surface. What sounds like a far-fetched decision is actually not that weird: Around 130 million tons of paper waste are generated worldwide every year, plus 11 million tons of pulp that cannot be recycled. However, the waste paper still needs a small change in order to be suitable for road construction. The pilot project is running.
Spain plans to save 18,000 t of cement a year
The Spanish government pays for the motorway sections made with waste paper at La Font de la Figuera in central Catalonia, and it should not be left to them alone. If the pavement works as it should, Spain plans to use paper to save 18,000 cement a year in road construction, thereby reducing carbon emissions by 65 to 75% in this area. Concrete and asphalt are particularly emission-intensive, which is why it is good if they stay away. If you then replace them with a waste material that no longer generates any new emissions, the coup is perfect. But how is paper made into a stable covering?
The answer is: by burning. Acciona is not using the intact paper for this road construction project, but paper ash. The project manager said in an interview with Euronews: “The paper ash not only meets all the technical requirements of cement, but is also significantly more environmentally friendly.” The Technical University of Madrid calculated the possible CO2 savings in an extra study.
Acciona would like to convert all Spanish motorways from asphalt to paper, but now we have to wait for the project to be evaluated. We all need environmentally friendly roads, but as always, patience is required to put things on a solid footing. Or on a solid surface.