Back in July 2009 we reported on a proposed scheme to bring a nappy recycling plant to the West Midlands, with personal hygiene products from children’s nurseries and hospitals collected and recycled at the site.
Well in the Autumn of 2011 the plant has now been opened in West Bromwich, West Midlands. Introduced by Canadian company Knowaste, the site will enable disposable nappies, often maligned for their environmental impact at landfill, to be recycled into roof tiles and other plastic products. Other personal hygiene products will also be collected and recycled at the plant.
In our report a couple of years ago we also looked at whether the broader, domestic market would be opened up for nappy recycling and whether this could be achieved in a cost effective manner. It appears from media reports that the site is indeed now investigating the possibility of domestic road-side waste collection of used nappies from households.
Commercially, it also allows children’s nurseries and other businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors by aligning themselves with a scheme which benefits the environment. This may perhaps appeal to parents of children when deciding on childcare, particularly those who have concerns about the impact of the waste generated by their families.
Even with the operation at present only taking nappies collected from nursing facilities, child care nurseries and hospitals (including bed liners and incontinence aids), Knowaste CEO Roy Browne states that the site will save 110,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. The plan is to produce sites which will eventually cope with a fifth of all absorbent hygiene products that enter the waste stream.
36,000 tonnes of nappies will be recycled at the West Bromwich site according to Mr Browne. Commercial tubes as well as roof tiles will be created from the waste.