Valorisation of Paper Industry Waste

This Innovation Exchange challenge, delivered by Innovate UK KTN through the Global Alliance Africa project, is supporting DCLM (operated by Veolia) to find economically viable ways to valorise paper industry waste. They are seeking solutions utilising innovative methods to transform waste materials into resources with internal or external commercial value.


Challenge opens


Challenge closes



Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to pitch their solution to Veolia. The winning applicant, as selected by DCLM (operated by Veolia), will get the opportunity to collaborate with them on a trial project. Up to GBP 25,000 seed funding is available to the successful finalist/s for this collaboration.

The Challenge

DCLM (operated by Veolia) would like to find economically viable ways to valorise waste produced from the pulp and paper industry. In their aim to be more sustainable and contribute to a circular economy strategy, DCLM is looking at reducing waste to landfill by seeking solutions utilising innovative methods to valorise dregs (mixture of black and green liquor) and effluent fibre that are produced in large quantities from the pulp and paper production processes. Solutions are invited from, but not limited to, the following sectors:

  • Waste management
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Environmental services
  • Manufacturing
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Industrial biology

For full details on the challenges and application process please attend the Information Session/Q&A on 20th June 2023. Please register here

DCLM Background

Dolphin Coast Landfill Management (operated by Veolia) owns and runs a Hazardous landfill site in the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, which is licensed by the National Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE). Their global operational expertise across industrial hazardous and non-hazardous wastes enables them to develop solutions that are tailored to identify and recover additional resources, increase recycling and avoid disposal costs.

Their experts work from source to final treatment, ensuring safety and reliability at every step, using innovative digital systems to provide complete waste traceability, enhanced reporting and an improved environmental footprint. DCLM prides itself on the development of long-term customer partnerships, tailoring expertise and resources to provide the best possible solution to their specific requirements. 

In a world facing resource scarcity and climate change, DCLM provides its customers, industrial companies and local authorities, with solutions aimed at ensuring a more sustainable and responsible development. DCLM's mission is evident in Our Purpose and Positioning, ‘Resourcing the World’.

Total Land Area of 140.6 hectares, of which, 49.2 hectares of this is permitted for H:H /Class A landfilling. Total Airspace of up to 20 million m3, to be divided into 13 separate cells. As of October 2014, cell 1 with an airspace of 700 000 cubic meters has been fully exploited and temporarily capped. Cell 2: 1.3000.000 m3 / Temporarily capped in February 2022. Cell 3: 1.550.000 m3 (approx) / Commissioned in January 2022. 

DCLM operates the landfill according to the highest international waste management standards, by applying the latest innovation in landfill engineering and science. 

Challenge Background

There are vast quantities of materials that may be recycled to extract commercial value. DCLM, through their long standing work in the Waste Management industry has identified several waste streams that have the potential to be valorised and contribute to a more sustainable waste industry. One of the industries identified is the pulp and paper industry that has two waste streams currently being landfilled, namely, effluent fibre and dregs.

Veolia is seeking practical, feasible and economically viable ways to utilise both of these waste streams productively, aligned with new waste regulations related to the Circular Economy. They are looking for solutions harnessing the beneficiation or valorisation possibilities of these materials. Veolia will share technical specs of current waste streams. Any solutions must be scalable across 10,000 tons per annum and be cost-neutral or profitable. 

Local solutions are preferable to minimise storage requirements of waste and to reduce transport costs. Solutions may lie within the fields of chemistry and industrial biology. 

The waste composition is slightly variable and tonnages are dependent on production. Samples and full spectrum analysis are available upon request (requires NDA agreement). The SVOC and VOC analysis both indicate that all determinants for volatile organic compounds measured were below detection limits.

A Circular Economy perspective would be most valuable as the ability to reuse, repurpose or recycle into another value chain would create a genuine difference. The game changing waste industry innovation would be the creation of a fraction or process ingredient that reduces reliance on natural resources and/or contributes in the reduction of waste to landfill.

Dregs Overview

During the Kraft pulp process, black and green liquor dregs are produced. These dregs are then sent to a furnace for drying, and once cooled this material is then sent to landfill in a filter cake like consistency (see image below). 


Process flow diagram of Dregs byproduct formation


Analysis on Composition - based on waste classification of metal content


Effluent Fibre Overview

Effluents from pulp and paper mills contain solids and dissolved matter. The paper industry uses a variety of effluent treatment systems. The preferred process combination for each individual case depends on the grade-specific quality of the effluent that is going to be treated. 

Before disposal to landfill the effluent fibre goes through a screw press separator designed to mechanically separate solid and liquid fractions of the fibre-rich effluent, before being sun dried. The sun dried, cotton- texture material (as shown in the image below) is then disposed of.


Analysis on Composition - based on waste classification of solid material


Rewards & Benefits

  • Up to GBP 25,000 seed funding (Subject to T&C)
  • Opportunity to pitch your solution to DCLM/Veolia
  • Collaboration/partnership with DCLM/Veolia
  • Technical support and Mentorship from DCLM/Veolia team
  • Mentorship programme facilitated by KTN
    Sector expertise from KTN
  • Support in the development of a prototype or pilot 
  • Invitation to attend or present at KTN events
  • Investor introductions (if investment is required)
  • Application support for any Innovate UK or similar competitions that are relevant

Functional Requirements

The identified solution must/should address the following:

  •  Provide a sustainable solution with the intent to reduce carbon emissions
  • Possible solutions into the sale or re-use of the waste streams.  
  • Solutions must be practical for South African environment
  • Solutions must deal with 10,000t of dregs and 10,000t of effluent annually
  • Solutions must be applicable on DCLM or client sites

Technical Requirements

  • Solutions can be incorporated into the landfill site
  • Be able to treat approximately 10-15,000 tons per annum
    Please detail any new infrastructure requirements for this solution
  • Solution must be able to deal with hazardous materials
  • Solution must be applicable in modular format, so it may be scaled progressively

[A site visit can be arranged upon request] 

Operating Conditions

  • Solutions to be able to be used or operated between Monday and Friday 7am to 3.30pm.  
  • Solutions must be to able to recover or re-use 100% of the waste stream
  • Solution to be implemented in wet and dry weather conditions. 
  • Solution must not be odorous
  • Solution should operate in normal temperatures and light levels

Deployment Timescale

  • 18 May 2023 - Competition Launch
  • 20 Jun 2023 – Information session/Q&A (TBC)
  • 14 July 2023 - Deadline for applications
  • Jul 2023 - Selection and notification of finalists
  • Aug 2023 - Pitch day and Selection of Winner
  • Aug 2023 – Collaboration Discussions
  • Sep 2023 – Pilot programme activated

Cost Requirement & Market Opportunity

  • Decrease the cost of landfilling. Cost reduction on the current process is essential. 
  • The solution must be able to treat the required volume and be able to expand as the feed capacity expands.
  • Opportunity to be expanded to the paper & pulp industry.
  • Winning solution providers will become long-term partners, gaining access to DCLM/Veolia’s facilities
  • For Circular Economy interventions, please include costings for the full lifespan of treatment.

Out of Scope

Proposed solutions will not be viable if they cannot deal with common scenarios including:

  • Unable to deal with variability of wastestream composition
  • Unable to deal with variable rates of wastestream production

Eligibility & Assessment Criteria

Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs
  • Africa-based entrants, UK-based entrants and those from RoW are invited to apply

Due Diligence requirements for seed funding:

  • Applicants must ensure that receiving the £25k seed funding will not exceed the £315,000* state aid threshold under UK Minimal Financial Assistance regulations over the current and last 2 fiscal years [or *200,000 euros for applicants affected by EC de minimis regulations]
  • Further information will be required later relating to company policies, financial history and recent grand funding received.

Applications will be assessed on:

  • Relevance to the topic
  • Innovative nature of the subject
  • Coherence of the proposed business model
  • Feasibility/ economic viability
  • Development potential
  • Maturity of project/solution
  • Ability to launch project quickly/Ease of implementation
  • Price/quality ratio
  • Suitability for the South African Market

IP & Potential Commercial Route

  • Existing background IP associated with a potential solution will remain with Solution Provider(s). Where any new IP generation is envisaged, it will be subject to the mutual IP agreement of the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Any commercial deployment of a transferred solution or newly developed solution, through licensing, joint venture, partnership or direct investment, will be subject to the commercial agreement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Where necessary, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) may be signed to uphold confidentiality in the engagement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger. (This would be expected to be after company selection, it is suggested that details of IP be not disclosed, Focus on the outcomes of the technology proposed).
  • KTN does not take any share of IP ownership or enter into commercial ventures through the iX programme.