Has This Recycling Company Solved the Welsh Nappy Problem?
Over 200 million soiled nappies are discarded in Welsh rubbish bins each year, and this equates to 10% of black bag waste. The sheer amount of discarded nappies has proven to be a headache for councils who have been told that they must recycle 60% of their waste by 2020, or face hefty fines. But one recycling company is taking the initiative, and recycling them into new items like pin boards and insulation.
Nappy recycling ‘not attractive for recyclers’
NappiCycle, based in Ammanford, has found a solution to the nappy waste problem. Recycling nappies is not attractive to recyclers because it’s inexpensive, and after processing, companies were left with just 25% of the material they had collected.
After much trial and error, the company developed a process to shred the nappies through friction washing while removing the waste. The fibres are put through a mill and turned into pellets, which is used in packaging, notice boards, wall panelling, acoustic material, insulation, and under laminate flooring.
The company is now working with universities to explore other possible uses, but because few companies have previously recycled nappies successfully, there’s currently not much of a market for the fibres. So as it stands, half of the material the company processes is used as fuel.
More Welsh Councils to explore Nappy recycling
NappiCycle works with seven Welsh councils; Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Conwy, Gwynedd and Carmarthenshire. Other councils send nappies to energy-from-waste facilities with the rest of their unrecyclable waste.
Seven of 19 Welsh local authorities provide larger bins to families with children, but offer no recycling collection services for nappies as it’s too costly. However, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are planning to trial nappy recycling schemes.
And if you’re thinking, why aren’t nappy manufacturers doing their bit, the world’s biggest nappy manufacturer, Procter and Gamble, has opened a plant in Italy where plastic will be recovered from discarded nappies.