The EU-funded paperChain project aims to demonstrate the Technical and Environmental Feasibility (TEF) of several circular economy models. In these models, competitive substitutes of primary raw materials will be produced using waste streams generated by the Pulp and Paper Industry (PPI). In this project, LGI is defining the circular economy models, assessing the transition between the linear and the circular models and elaborating the exploitation strategies for the paperChain results.

paperCHAIN includes five large-scale demonstrators or demo-cases in different operational industries:

  • The construction industry in Portugal (production of asphalt mixtures and concrete for roads), Spain (stabilised-soil layers for roads) and Slovenia (composite materials for slide stabilisation in railways)
  • The chemical industry in Sweden (production of bio-ethanol for secondary chemicals)
  • The mining industry in Sweden (production of sealing layers for reactive spoil).

More specifically, in the Spanish demo-case, ashes generated by the waste-to-energy plant of SAICA, located in El Burgo de Ebro (Zaragoza) would replace cement and lime—two primary raw materials, currently used as binder for soil stabilisation in sub-base layer of roads or highways. These ashes currently have no useful value but end up in landfills. They will significantly contribute to reduce the carbon footprint of road projects by replacing cement and lime, relevant emitters of CO2.

To demonstrate the TEF of this circular model, two field trials are planned. The first trial has begun in October. It takes place in Villamayor de Gállego (Zaragoza, NE Spain) and consists of the complete renovation of the road section of La Balsa Street along 1 km. The renovation includes the removal of the remaining deteriorated pavement and its replacement with a 25 cm thick type 3 stabilised soils (S-EST3) containing 5 % of ash, instead of cement. The final resulting surface will be paved with a double bituminous surface dressing.

The second field trial will be carried out in Ejea de Los Caballeros, Zaragoza (NE Spain). In this case, a one km long stretch of an unpaved road will be improved. The mechanical properties of underlying clayey soil will be enhanced by means of the addition of 3% of ash. Then, a graded aggregate layer will be placed over it.

paperChain is a Research and Innovation Project funded by the European Commission and Coordinated by ACCIONA Construction which includes 20 partners from 5 EU countries. The project encompasses an outstanding network of key-stakeholders and supporting parties, including the city councils of Villamayor de Gállego, El Burgo de Ebro, Ejea de Los Caballeros and the Department of Territory Integration, Mobility and Housing in Aragon.

Coordinator of the Project

Juan José Cepriá

R&D Project Manager Acciona Construcción



Camille Auriault

Innovation Strategist

Learn more on the paperCHAIN project