Dry Pulping Technology Could Reduce Paper And Water Waste

Dry Pulping Technology Could Reduce Paper And Water Waste

Recycling paper isn’t as advanced as it should be. For example, specialty papers, like labels, cannot be recycled with the regular water-dissolving process. As a result, it ends up in regular trash. To address this issue, TBP Future has developed Dry Pulping technology that turns specialty papers into recyclable fibers that can be reused in papermaking, saving more paper from going to waste.

Paper Waste

The TBP Future team calculated precisely how much specialty paper ends up in the trash, based on how much paper is produced annually and how much is being recycled. In their calculations, they also considered roughly how much of this paper never entered this cycle, including things like banknotes, library books, and specific files such as doctor or police records.

“This estimate indicates that approximately one million tons of specialty papers go to waste in Germany each year,” highlighted Dr. Tilo Gailat, a CEO of TBP Future. Dry pulping could be the solution to avoiding a large part of this waste.

The machine, called a Dry Pulper, works with a four-step process:

1. It shreds paper into smaller pieces that the machine can digest.
2. These shreds are broken up into fibers by air whirls within the Dry Pulper.
3. The fibers are separated from the air.
4. The fibers are compressed into a pulp which can be used in paper production once more.


Dry Pulping Technology Could Reduce Paper And Water Waste

(Credit: TBP Future)

Avoiding Water Waste

This recycling system’s most significant environmental benefit is that it doesn’t require large amounts of water generally used in the standard paper recycling process. When mixed with water, the regular paper dissolves into fibers, creating a pulp that can be converted into new paper. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about specialty papers, which are often water-repellent, making the standard method ineffective, on top of being wasteful.

Dr. Gailat explained:

We know that the huge amounts of water used in paper production lead to an enormous amount of energy needed in the process. So we said to ourselves: if we manage to keep water out of this process, we will save a lot of energy. The longer the process continues without water, the more energy we can save.

However, there are still some kinks to iron out. For example, the machine can break down the regular paper into its fibers, but this method uses slightly more energy. In addition, while a great benefit of dry pulping is that it requires less water, it still cannot replace the recycling process for regular paper fully just yet. “The energy consumption is only favorable for us if water is kept out of other processes, such as the processing of fibers – or if we’re treating specialty papers,” Dr. Gailat added.

TBP Future Origins

TBP Future was originally born while scientists worked on a research project at the Technical University (TU) Dresden. During this project, the team had to deal with printing ink removal, requiring tiny shreds of paper. Team members in the lab had to cut up paper with scissors and, after a couple of days, they realized it was far too labor-intensive and inefficient.