Akzo Nobel to turn paper trash into paint-worthy treasure

Photo: AkzoNobel

Alucha and AkzoNobel are collaborating on technology that turns paper sludge into resources for making paint. Alucha won the partnership in the 2019 Paint the Future global startup challenge.

A lot has happened since Alucha became one of five winners of the 2019 Paint the Future startup challenge. Gijs Jansen, Alucha CEO, and Rinske van Heiningen, AkzoNobel’s Director of Sustainability, share what’s next in this partnership to turn paper sludge into useable resources that can be used to make paint.

Alucha has developed a technology that recovers calcium carbonate – a mineral that goes into things like plastics, paper, and paints – from paper waste. Paper sludge, which is what’s left of paper once the fibers have broken down so much that it cannot be recycled anymore, is the paper industry’s biggest waste stream.

“Today, calcium carbonate comes out of mines and quarries in great quantities. It goes into plastics, paper, paints, pharmaceuticals and all sorts of everyday life products which will be thrown away and end up in landfill or incineration facilities,” says Gijs.

“Either way you lose the calcium carbonate and burning it will generate carbon dioxide (CO2),” Gijs explains. “Our technology to recover calcium carbonate will mean less waste in the landfill or incinerator, and also less reliance on mining.”

What AkzoNobel finds especially exciting about Alucha’s technology is that the calcium carbonate recovered from paper sludge is an essential raw material in paint. This non-commodity supply offers a relatively low cost and efficient way to make products more sustainable and circular.