Case Study: Paper from mine dust (Not Trees)

Circular Economy Stone Paper from Mine Dust

This is one of my favourite case studies. Mine dust causes health problems. The simple solution, turn it into paper.

Paper from trees is ludicrous. Have we got too many trees? Do we need to cull them to capture our ideas?

An A4 piece of paper requires 14 litres of water. For one ton of paper, we need 20 trees. An alternative is to use recycled paper, but even recycled paper uses loads of water, a fair chunk of energy and loads of chemicals to do the de-inking. Paper can generally only be recycled 4-5 times.

On the other side, the mining industry has a justifiably bad image for the way they generally operate, of course we still want our mobile phones and laptops, but as we think milk comes from a carton, so too does a phone come from a factory. There is waste generated in the mining process that causes a load of health problems, like asthma, as well as environmental degradation. The truth is that regeneration is not planting a tree, it is generating value and it can be done by taking a circular view there is no need to accumulate waste.

I am no expert (clearly), but my understanding is that calcium carbonate needs to be burned for metallurgy and the cement industry. This creates a lot of dust. This dust can be turned into paper, this is not theoretical. Production in China has reached 1 million tons, what was waste, is now valuable. 20 million trees save. The paper is rock mineral based, which means the paper can be reused forever.

And before you are imagining some stone tablet, fear not, it is light as normal paper, as air is injected. It is also weatherproof, tough and durable (tear resistant), non-toxic and recyclable.

At least half of our current paper, can be produced as stone paper. Add digital transformation efforts and perhaps we can end up with 5% of the current production for special use cases, as there are always an exceptions.

The Circular Thinking revolution is happening, but it will require disrupting our old linear ways of thinking. I, for one, am excited to be a part of it.

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