SLU news

Waste is a valuable resource

Published: 04 October 2021

The use of waste for developing valuable products contributes to sustainable development. A proper management of municipal solid waste (MSW) can for example result in a greener economy. In a recently published study, researchers investigated the potentiality of using water hyacinth as raw material for production of handmade paper and how the method can provide bio-compost as a by-product, in Bangladesh.

The landfill is the economical way of MSW disposal practices worldwide. It causes environmental pollution and land shortage. However, the use of waste for recycling may help to reduce the problem of landfilling. It will also reduce pressure on the environment and help to optimise the utilisation of the resources. MSW can be used for recycling, energy production, and bio-compost.

Water hyacinth (WH) is considered the worst aquatic weed in the world because of its rapid growth and fast spread into new areas of fresh water bodies. The vigorous growth of water hyacinth mats leads to depletion of dissolved oxygen and increment of water loss due to evapotranspiration, which results in losing fisheries, and degradation of fishing habitats. It also hinders water transport and causes epidemic outbreaks caused by providing massive vector (e.g., mosquito) breeding sites. The blockage of irrigation canals and problems due to depositioning of soil and sand caused by the weed leads to reducing flood control, degrades the quality of water used for swimming and makes fishing impossible. Nevertheless, water hyacinth can be used for handmade paper and bio-compost production. The use of these wastes for valuable purposes will help to contribute to reaching the target of the green economy. Thus, the conversion of waste into value-added products is the way to go for the circular economy.

“Waste is not a waste, it is a valuable resource”, says Atanu Kumar Das, doctoral student at the Department of Forest Biomaterials and Technology and one of the authors of the publication.


  • Handmade paper was produced from water hyacinth using the potassium hydroxide pulping method.
  • The waste potassium-rich black liquor was used to produce compost mainly from WH.
  • The produced compost was rich in macronutrients, i.e., N and K essential for plant growth.
  • Reusing of MSW rather than land filling can add value.
  • Proper management of the MSWs and their application in valuable purposes can contribute to a greener economy.



Fig 1. Pathway of the utilisation of municipal waste.



Fig 2. Proper utilisation of water hyacinth. BL= black liqour