IMG 3240

Abandoned Chalk Mine

Sustainability

Problem 1: linear calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound (CaCO3). It is a mineral commonly found in rocks like chalk, limestone and marble (ground calcium carbonate, or GCC). About 44% of its weight consists of carbon dioxide, making calcium carbonate one of the earth’s important carbon sinks.

The vast majority of calcium carbonate is extracted by mining or quarrying in open pits, where the rocks are blasted and milled into particles ranging from course to very fine (micron sized). This requires lots of energy and results in carbon emissions. Furthermore, the mining activities threaten biodiversity.

Calcium carbonate is a workhorse for many industries that use the mineral as an extender or filler in their products (paper, paints, plastics, adhesives, etc).  It is a completely linear industry and many of these products end up as waste in landfills or incinerators, this way also causing substantial carbon emissions.

Problem 2: paper mill sludge waste

Paper mill sludge (PMS) is the largest waste stream in the paper industry. Generated in the water treatment facilities at paper mills, it consists of cellulose fibres (40-50%) and paper fillers and coatings like calcium carbonate and kaolin (50-60%).

Currently, PMS is disposed of mainly by incineration or landfilling. This environmentally unfriendly practice results in carbon emissions, both from the vehicles removing the waste and through the combustion of the sludge, during which process the CO2 inside the calcium carbonate is released into the atmosphere.

Our solution

With our patented reactor technology, we can recover the calcium carbonate fillers from the PMS waste stream in such a way that these can be used again as fillers in consumer products. We call our fillers Circular Calcium Carbonate (CCC). Paper mills all over the world are our “mines”.

Impact

Life Cycle Assessment

The European Commission aims to transform Europe into a circular economy. Responsible resource consumption, recycling and reuse should lead to less demand for fossil fuels and, with this, a reduction in carbon emissions.

Alucha’s solution contributes to this by recovering calcium carbonate from PMS, increasing the circular content in products and reducing the incineration of PMS waste. PMS waste is now largely being incinerated either directly at an incinerator or in a cement kiln. Even landfilling and landspreading is still allowed in some situations.

Life cycle assessment studies show that per metric tonne of PMS processed about 220kg of CO2 equivalent can be saved compared to other disposal methods.

The installation of one circular Alucha mine could have an effect equivalent to a forest of 420,000 trees!

Circularity

There is a global paradigm shift towards a circular economy. Circularity is key to the energy transition, and circular principles are aimed at minimising waste.

Laws, regulations and policies are moving towards implementing circularity principles. The Dutch government, for example, has set the target of reducing waste nationally by 50% by 2030 and having a waste-free economy by 2050. Companies are under pressure to start working on this.

The European Union has launched its European Green Deal to make Europe carbon-neutral by 2050, and circularity is an important part of this. Brand owners will need to step up to comply with the new regulations.

Large and front-running multinationals are seeing this and setting targets to achieve a certain level of circular or recycled content in their products. 

An enormous supply-demand gap for circular raw materials is already starting to arise. Our products and solutions can fill this gap and help our clients achieve their goals.

Sustainable Development Goals

It is becoming increasingly important that companies commit to the UN sustainability goals (Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs). Implementing our solution and using CCC in their products will help companies achieve the following:

  • Environmental impact: Circularity and CO2 savings. Reduction of excavation and, with this, improved biodiversity. We solve one of the largest waste stream problems: keeping CO2 inside the calcium carbonate. Less pollution of soil and earth from sludge incineration.
  • Social impact: Reduced global pollution, increased recycled content in products, less pressure on earth’s resources, fewer HGV movements and related accidents, creation of circular jobs.

Application of CCC supports at least the following Sustainable Development Goals.

Our customer Essity about our technology and recycling solution: