Case study: Promoting value chain sustainability through innovation
Sibelco helps customers adopt a ‘Cradle to Cradle’ approach.
This approach involves the design of products and systems that are essentially waste free. One such is carpet company Tarkett who, with the help of Sibelco, now use a by-product of water softening in the Netherlands in the manufacture of backing for its carpet tiles.
About half of Dutch drinking water is softened by extracting calcium carbonate (lime). This leaves a residue of lime pellets which are then removed from the water. The company Aquaminerals takes care of the sale of these lime pellets on behalf of the drinking water companies. Initially the pellets were only recycled for use in construction and agriculture. But thanks to initiatives by the drinking water companies, a purer version has been developed with potential high-value applications in glass, paper and carpet manufacture.
Tarkett worked closely with water companies in the Netherlands to become the first carpet company in the world to use this calcium carbonate in carpet backing. However, they needed the pellets to be processed into a fine filler to make them suitable for use. Sibelco provided the solution by grinding them to a specific particle size that optimised their filler effect. This, in turn, minimised the binding agent required and reduced Tarkett’s production costs.
Now Tarkett expects to draw as much as 20,000 tonnes of lime from local water companies and Sibelco has also adapted its process to account for the varying quality of pellets from different water stations.
As Ludwig Cammaert, Tarkett’s R&D chief explained: “with the help of Sibelco, the calcium carbonate particle size and distribution was tailored to our requirements, making this a true innovation in the value chain process.”
- Tarkett is the first company in the world to use recycled calcium carbonate from water softening in carpet manufacture
- It expects to draw up to 20,000 tonnes of chalk from Dutch water companies
- About half the drinking water in the Netherlands is softened using calcium carbonate, producing almost 80,000 tonnes of lime pellets
- A true cooperation between companies is necessary for Cradle to Cradle success
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