Category 18 April 2019


The Hydrophobic Absorbent for Water Surface Cleaning (HAWSC) is the main result of the
CAPS project. The purpose of this eco-innovative material is to allow any end-user to perform the absorption of any hydrophobic substance on the surface of water. It can also be used on hard surfaces.

The conversion of roughly 40 000 tons of paper mill sludge into this new absorbent will be carried out within two production lines in Slovenia and Finland (2012) during the EC funded period. Fourteen years after the project has finished, the yearly consumption of the absorbent is expected to be 570 000 tons. To reach this goal, the Conversion of Paper mill Sludge into Absorbent project aims to set up two production lines per year in Europe, with a yearly manufacturing capacity of 20 000 tons each.

The potential market for the sustainable absorbent can be sourced in the pulp and paper mills throughout Europe. According to the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), there are around 1200 pulp and paper mills in Europe (2006). The paper industry has a turnover of 79 billion euros while investing 4.7 billion euros per year, with more than 10 % dedicated to environmental protection. The major pulp-producing countries are Finland (29.5%), Sweden (28.5%), Germany (6.9%), France (5.5%), Portugal (5.1%), Norway (5.1%), Spain (4.8%), Austria (4.6%) and the rest of Europe around 10%. Depending on both the market size and its structure, the implementation of production lines in these European countries will entail different outcomes. The total amount of paper mill sludge to be recycled will represent roughly 3 % in Finland whereas the Slovenian paper industry will reach more than 30% of recycled paper mill sludge.

It is assumed that in smaller markets, diverting paper mill sludge from incinerating or land filling will bring a large cost benefit for the paper industry. The sludge treatment and recovering will dramatically decrease the waste management cost while the country where the absorbent production is implemented should obtain a carbon footprint trade benefit of 53 780 tons of CO2 per line.

Moreover, the Life Cycle Assessment of CO2 emissions related to synthetic oil spill absorbents showed that fossil fuel based materials generate 502 000 tons of CO2 whereas the sustainable absorbent stemming from paper mill sludge generates only 14 660 tons.

Thus, this eco-innovative material will contribute to a much more environmentally-friendly paper industry and should solve environmental issues in other industrial sectors, where oil separating devices are needed such as ports, petrol stations (around 110 000 all over Europe), oil refineries, chemical industries, etc.


CAPS Project Information Sheet – CIP Eco-innovation