Design Firm Is Taking Used Toilet Paper From “Ew” To “Oh!"

Unappealing sewage materials can have value, too

Studio Nienke Hoogvliet, a Dutch textile, product, and concept design studio, presented “Watterschatten,” a project for Dutch Water Authorities that harvests energy and raw materials from used toilet paper. Yes. You read that right: used toilet paper.

To commemorate the installation of fine sieves that extract cellulose from used toilet paper, the Dutch Water Authorities invited Studio Nienke Hoogvliet to give one of life’s lowliest necessities a much needed makeover. It’s a sustainable innovation well deserving of fanfare as every year in the Netherlands, over 180,000 tonnes of toilet paper are flushed and subsequently burned.

The goal of the partnership was to strip away negative associations with waste materials and to exhibit the value of unappealing sewage materials. Extracted cellulose can be used to create items such as recycled toilet paper, which reduces the environmental impact in forests, and can even be repurposed to create unique and handmade goods. To inform the public on the further uses of cellulose, Studio Nienke Hoogvliet showcased “Watterschatten” during Dutch Design Week. The collection consisted of lighting, decorative bowls, and an eight-drawer table, where each drawer contains supplementary information on additional materials such as energy and phosphates that can be reclaimed from wastewater.

All photos courtesy of Studio Nienke Hoogvliet