Hair Recycle collects cut hair from hairdressers to use as cushions that absorb polluting oil from Belgian rivers.
With the Hair Recycle project, the non-profit organisation Dung Dung collects cut-off strands of hair from hairdressers all over Belgium. This hair then serves as a raw material for absorbing hydrocarbons in polluted rivers. Cut off hair is no longer waste, but gets a role as recyclable raw material with different applications.
Every week, Riviercontract receives at least one report of river pollution. The causes include leaking fuel oil tanks, car accidents and illegal dumping. Human hair is the ideal material for absorbing the polluting oil from the water. That hair comes from the hairdresser's and is collected by volunteers of Hair Recycle, an initiative of Patrick Janssens of Dung Dung vzw.
More than 450 Belgian hairdressers have already joined Hair Recycle. Their 'waste' is then collected by one of the volunteers and stored in Borgworm or taken to the custom-made company Apac in Manage. There the hair is woven into little carpets about two centimetres thick, after which they are pressed into a kind of cushion three metres long and twenty centimetres wide. These cushions help to combat hydrocarbon pollution.
Why is hair ideal for this? Hair absorbs grease and one kilo of hair can absorb eight litres of petroleum. This means that these cushions absorb hydrocarbons almost as well as cushions made of polypropylene, a petroleum derivative. By using hair instead of a synthetic product, the cushions can be given a second life. The hydrocarbon is removed from the cushions and the hair and fabric around it serve as raw material to strengthen concrete. The ovens for concrete production, in turn, are fired with the hydrocarbons from the rivers. Thus, the circle is complete once again.
Hair Recycle is working hard to optimise the logistics. The volunteers want to travel in an ecologically responsible way, so they often combine collecting the hair with a job in logistics or as a home deliverer. This way the extra CO2 emissions are limited as much as possible.
At the moment, Hair Recycle is still looking for volunteers to collect hair follicles from hairdressing salons in the provinces of West Flanders, East Flanders and Limburg. Is that something for you? Then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org .