Monmouthshire County Council and Cardiff City Council are to become the first local authorities in the UK to send nappy and AHP waste for recycling.
AHP waste is known as absorbent hygiene products and includes disposable nappies, adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products. Both councils have been running separate collections of this waste material from households to support them with the change of fortnightly refuse collections, recognising that this can be a difficult and sensitive waste to manage. This material stream is currently separately collected from a total of 2,500 households in Cardiff and Monmouthshire.
From March 2012 the two local authorities are sending this material stream to be recycled at the UK’s first AHP recycling plant to Knowaste Ltd, based in the West Bromwich, in the West Midlands. The Knowaste recycling process sterilises the materials using autoclave technology and sorts and separates the wastes to recover highly valuable plastic and fibre materials for re-use in new products. Knowaste recovers 95% of the material input into the facility. The plastics can replace virgin polymers in plastic components and can be used in composite materials replacing steel and concrete. The fibres can be used in fibre based construction materials and commercial tubing. Knowaste are in the final stages of negotiating long term agreements for turning the recycled materials into products within the UK.
The performance of the trial and learning outcomes will be managed by SE Wales Regional Waste Co-ordinator, James Kay. Mr Kay said: “This material stream is a substantial part of the household waste stream and has benefits two-fold. It diverts this material from landfill and recovers this material making it available for recycling instead. These are important criteria when considering treatment of household waste.” The SE Wales Regional Group has been in discussion with Knowaste in respect of AHP waste, in excess of 18 months, which has culminated in this trial and which will lead to a contract being tendered possibly covering the whole of Wales.
Monmouthshire County Council cabinet member for county operations Cllr Bryan Jones said: “Monmouthshire was always pleased to offer the separate nappy collection service to the public and now that we can actually recycle them it makes it a double win for everyone. Nappies and similar waste make up about 5% of our waste stream – that’s 2,375 tonnes a year. If this is removed from landfill it benefits the environment, reduces the financial burden on the public purse and importantly contributes to our recycling performance. I am also pleased that we are working in partnership with Cardiff City Council. Sharing of facilities, transportation and experience is the most sensible thing to do and I am pleased that our recent investment in the Llanfoist Recycling Centre and Transfer Station has made this scheme possible.
Cardiff Council Executive Member for Environment, Cllr Margaret Jones said: “Cardiff Council is leading the way in seeking sustainable solutions to how we deal with the waste we all produce and we are delighted to partner Monmouthshire Council in becoming the first councils in the UK to recycle the nappy and hygiene waste stream. This particular stream of waste proves very difficult to dispose of in a sustainable manner and we will observe this trial closely. Recycling this waste successfully and in a sustainable manner and avoid landfill would be a further success to our new recycling and waste collection scheme.”
Roy Brown, CEO of Knowaste, said: “With the majority of the UK’s 1 million tonnes per annum of absorbent hygiene wastes generated at home, the Cardiff and Monmouthshire recycling trials represent true progress in domestic kerbside collections.”
“Knowaste specialises in recycling absorbent hygiene products and recovering the highly valuable plastics and fibres for re use in new plastic product and fibre tubing and board. We already work with the UK’s leading hygiene and washroom companies to recycle their commercial waste - it is with considerable pride that Knowaste will be receiving waste, for the first time, from local councils and helping them to enhance services, hit recycling targets, improve carbon savings and divert from landfill”.
“Working with councils such as Cardiff and Monmouthshire who are so strongly committed to recycling, strengthens our commitment to investing in more plants and jobs in Wales and across the UK in the next three to four years.”
The trial period will last six months and be used to determine the most efficient way of handling this material stream and evaluate the level of demand from householders for this service.