Recycling specialist Knowaste has submitted a planning application to build the UK’s largest facility for recycling nappies and other hygiene products at a site in Hayes, west London.
Knowaste was the first company in the UK to recycle absorbent hygiene products (AHP), which include nappies, incontinence pads and feminine hygiene products, setting up a pilot treatment facility in the West Midlands between 2011 and 2013.
The original site processed an average 12,000 tonnes of the waste a year, including a total of 117 million nappies. However, Knowaste estimates the new £14m Hayes 180 site, which is planned for launch in early 2017, would handle at least 36,000 tonnes of AHP waste per annum.
Paul Richardson, UK business development director at Knowaste, said the recycling process is the most sustainable solution for managing AHP waste that is often otherwise sent to landfill or for incineration.
“Hayes 180 is the start of an exciting phase for Knowaste, and the area of west London offers a great foundation for the development of our technology,” he said in a statement.
He also indicated that plans for further plants were in the pipeline. “This is part of a larger programme of major site investment that Knowaste will be rolling out across the UK,” he said.
The technology developed by Knowaste recycles AHPs into useful products by shredding them before separating them into plastics and fibres. All products are thermally sterilised and sorted to remove contaminants. The plastics can then be re-used to make products such as plastic bins, while the fibres are washed, dried and processed for use as pet litter. Overall, over 97 per cent of the AHP product can be recycled with the technology, the company said.
A spokeswoman for the company told BusinessGreen it was in talks with a number of partners who could use the resulting materials to make new products.
A life-cycle analysis completed for Knowaste in 2010 by accountancy firm Deloitte found its recycling process emits up to 71 per cent less carbon emissions than landfill and incineration. Toxicity impacts to humans and animals were also highly reduced.
If the planning application is successful, Knowaste said it would work with a variety of services including healthcare and residential care providers, as well as local authorities, to source waste for the facility. A fee would be charged to use the facility, replacing landfill or incineration costs.
The UK currently throws away over eight million nappies every day, Knowaste said, accounting for around four per cent of UK household waste.
Source: Recycling BG