Most parents know where their babies’ disposable nappies end up – in landfill sites where they can take centuries to decompose.
Now, a waste processing plant in Holland hopes to change that by creating a recycling plant for the millions of nappies used each year.
Dutch firm ARN is building a dedicated facility in the Nijmegen region, close to the German border, which will turn the nappies into four products – green gas, plastics, fertiliser and biomass – in a reactor that reaches temperatures of up to 250 degrees at high pressure.
“The nappies, including their contents of urine and faecal matter, become liquid and separate into different materials,” process developer Willem Elsinga told Dutch broadcaster NOS.
“The high temperature gets rid of the bacteria, traces of medication and viruses so all the products we make from the diapers will be safe. Otherwise we couldn’t sell them,” added Elsinga.
“We plan to process some 15,000 tonnes of nappies a year,” Harrie Arends, spokesman for the ARN energy company which will run the plant, told the AFP.
The plastic separated in the process will be put through a granulator before being used for a variety of goods including household items such as garden furniture or flower pots, she said. The gas will be turned into fuel for power stations, and the rest piped to a nearby sewage treatment plant.
If the recycling plant is a success, Arends hopes two more facilities will be built in the near future. The original plant is due to open in December 2018.
Do you try and reduce waste by finding more sustainable ways to use nappies? Have you tried washable nappies? Or eco-disposables? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.