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Blog: Applications for Recycled Nappies

 
From benches and bollards to railways sleepers and flood defences, recycled nappies have a wide range of applications that are both environmentally friendly and incredibly useful. Knowaste, the UK's first nappy recycling company, is leading the way with its unique approach.

 
 

The story so far

Knowaste has processed over 77 million nappies since it opened its recycling facility in West Bromwich in 2011, saving over 18,000 tonnes of nappy waste from being disposed of in landfill or through incineration.

 
However, these figures are just the start and Knowaste is projected to process nearly 13,000 tonnes, approximately 56.4 million nappies in 2013/14, which is expected to double in 2014/15 to around 112.3 million nappies. Not only will this save harmful waste from contaminating landfill sites and reduce emissions from incineration, but the materials from recycled nappies can also be used to make a range of useful products that may surprise you.

The recycling process

When a shipment of disposable nappies is delivered to the processing facility, all incoming waste material is sterilised and then undergoes a complex system of shredding, screening, washing and drying to produce two raw materials; cellulose fibre and plastic.

 
These are then further refined to ensure that all contaminants are removed from the recycled materials. The refinement process enables up to 100% of the disposable nappy to be removed from the waste stream, offering a 22,536 metric tonne reduction in greenhouse gases per year.

A new lease of life

The refined cellulose fibre and plastics from recycled nappies can be used to manufacture an incredible range of products.

 
We are currently working with a number of plastic manufacturers to produce items, such as timber decking and fencing, benches, bollards, railway sleepers and flood defence systems. We are also working with three of the largest wheelie bin manufacturers in Europe to integrate the recycled plastics from nappies into waste containers. We take great care to ensure that all recycled materials are managed in a closed loop system, and the containers used by local authorities to collect used nappies are made from Knowaste recycled plastics.
 
Successful trials have also been completed at a paper mill to manufacture cardboard, which will be used to make toilet role tubes and moulded fibre packaging for non-food products. However, the cellulose fibres from recycled nappies have a vast range of uses that are only beginning to be explored, including bricks, insulation, brake linings, tarmac, pet litter, concrete and tile adhesive.
 
This is the beginning of an exciting time for Knowaste and we are enthusiastic about all of these applications and some new ones that we are still working on.
 
 
Do you want to see more nappy recycling? Do you have questions about the service that we offer? Join the debate: @KnowNappyWaste

 



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