A New Kind of Toilet Paper

(Photo: Diana House)

Our podcast “The Power of Poop” explored a variety of uses of human waste, including fecal bacteriotherapy (or a “transpoosion”), a poop-powered car, and homes heated with human waste

Now there’s another use. From Israel’s Ynetnews:

Dr. Refael Aharon of Applied CleanTech has developed a system capable of turning stinking sewage into a renewable and profitable source of energy. How?

About 99.9% of the drainage which comes out of our homes and flows through pipes is water. The remaining 10% are comprised of solid substances which can be used for the production of cellulose, which is used to produce paper.

These substances include food leftovers, used toilet paper and fiber from clothes which flow into the sewage with the laundry water. So far, these solid substances have been a difficult and expensive nuisance. The process of cleaning the large amounts of processed waste remaining after the wastewater filtration require a lot of money, which pushes up our water tariffs. 

Aharon says the process he developed reduces half of the solid substances in the sewage. As a result, the factory needs less electricity and chemicals to purify water – and the money saved may eventually reduce our water bills. So how does one turn drain water into paper? After the solid substances are filtered and separated from the wastewater, they undergo a drying and purification process to remove bacteria.

The remaining substance, which includes large amounts of cellulose, can be sold to paper manufacturers. Thanks to the system, which has already been installed in one of the sewage purification facilities in southern Israel, paper has already been produced at much lower costs than regular recycled paper.

(HT: Karin Kloosterman)

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  1. Chet says:

    99.9% + 10% = an overflowing sewer.

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  2. Mike H says:

    This will never be accepted in America. We’ve become waaay to sissy-fied to even try something like this (even though it’s probably totally safe and feasible).

    Jenny McCarthy or Whoopi Goldberg or some other media lunatic would denounce it immediately.

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    • rick says:

      Sadly you’re probably right in the short term, though I might expect a slow adoption over time.

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    • pawnman says:

      You just slap “recycled, post-consumer waste” on the side and people will buy it. No need to slap “poo paper” on the label.

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    • Mike B says:

      Most toilet paper is already made from post consumer sources making the resulting fibers of especially low quality. There’s a difference between recycling high value items and recycling for the sake of one’s own self image. This is a about as useful at conserving natural resources glassphalt. The best use for the solid sludge items in sewage is either to be burned as carbon neutral fuel or landfilled as a carbon sink.

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  3. Benjamin says:

    This idea stinks!

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  4. Jeff says:

    Thanks again Israel for reminding us that you can turn lemons into lemonade

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  5. carlosmx37 says:

    The topic reminds me that the american farmers totally dissaproved the use of human remains as fertilizer,that was very normal and common among japanese inmigrants and was of great help in making productive the desserted lands of Colorado
    .Or that chapter of “centennial” by writter james michener was ficticious?

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  6. Bonocol says:

    Wow!!! 99.9% is water and the remainig is 10% ??

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  7. justin says:

    The little city I went to college in had a pretty ingenious sewage treatment plant. I took a tour of it for an environmental science class I was enrolled it. It had (as I recall) a three tank system the first tank was just an incoming pipe from the sewers it had a screen to divert all solid material to a grinder. The water from tank 1 was then sent to tank 2 via a water screw where the water was treated with a bacteria that did something (it was a long time ago I don’t recall exactly but I think that bacteria ate the stuff in the water and produced nitrogen) then it was sent to tank 3 where a different bacteria ate the nitrogen (I think) and after that it was sent to a marsh, which drained into the river where our drinking water came from. The tour guide (who was the guy in charge of the place) said the water that came out of the treatment plant was cleaner than what we drank and by putting it into the river via the marsh it’s quality was actually reduced. All the material that was ground up before going into the first tank, and all the sediment from the bottom of tank 1 (there was no sediment in tank 2 or 3) was mixed in with other bacteria, wood chips, and compost to make a fertilizer which the city then sold to Landscapers. They only sell every few months and when they do they sold it all in hours, I was told the quality of the fertilizer was better than anything else on the market and was about the price of the worst stuff. We lived only 15 miles from a big city and our sewer tax was about 1/3.

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  8. Christopher Simpson says:

    Doesn’t the law of diminishing returns apply here? Toilet paper from poop, then again, then again… eventually aren’t we just left with poop? Kind of philosophical that last bit.

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