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In Belgium, human hair is recycled to protect the environment

by Prosenjit bhattacharya

Date & Time: Jan 20, 2023 3:00 PM

Read Time: 1 minute

Coiffeurs across Belgium are sweeping and bagging hair clipped from their customers before donating it to an NGO that recycles it to help the environment.

The Hair Recycle project feeds locks and tresses into a machine, which transforms them into matted squares that can be used to absorb oil and other hydrocarbons that pollute the environment, or made into bio-composite bags.

According to Project Co-founder Patrick Janssen, 1 kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of hair can absorb 7-8 litres (1.8-2.1 US gallons) of oil and hydrocarbons, and the mats can be placed in drains to soak up pollution in water before it reaches a river.

"Our products are even more ethical because they are made locally... they are not imported from the other side of the world," he told Reuters. "They are made locally to address local issues."

According to the project's website, hair has powerful properties: one strand can support up to 10 million times its own weight, and it is water-soluble and highly elastic due to its keratin fibres.

Isabelle Voulkidis, manager of the Helyode salon in Brussels, is one of dozens of hairdressers across the country who pay a small fee to the project in order for their hair cuttings to be collected.

"What motivates me personally is that I find it a shame that hair is nowadays just thrown away, when I know there is so much that can be done with it," she said as she combed and clipped one of her customers' hair.

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