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Nappy recycler set to return to the UK with bigger facility

Knowaste has announced plans to build the UK’s largest absorbent hygiene product (AHP) recycling facility in west London almost two and a half years after closing its West Midlands facility.

After opening the UK’s first nappy recycling centre in September 2011 with much fanfare, Knowaste announced in May 2013 that it had “outgrown” the West Bromwich site.

The move pushed local authority nappy recycling schemes into disarray and, despite reassurances that an alternative site would be found soon after closure, this failed to materialise.

Canada-based Knowaste said if the new project, which it calls Hayes180, is approved, it will be capable of processing 36,000 tonnes of AHP waste a year. It plans to have Hayes180 up and running in early 2017.

This follows an announcement from Knowaste early last year that it would open an AHP facility in the south-east with updated technology.  

The company said it has already built “strategic partnerships” with a distributor of pet litter and a manufacturer of plastic bins to use the end materials that its recycling process produces.

Paul Richardson, UK business development director, said: “Our AHP recycling process is considered to be the most sustainable solution to managing this specific waste, saving up to 70% of carbon dioxide emissions when compared with the usual disposal methods of landfill and incineration. We are able to recycle more than 97% of the AHP product with our unique and exciting technology.

“Hayes180 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. This is part of a larger programme of major site investment that Knowaste will be rolling out across the UK.”

The Knowaste system uses a bespoke recycling technology to turn AHPs into useful plastics and fibres. Bagged AHPs are first shredded and the waste is separated, then sterilised using advanced thermal treatment technology and contaminants are removed.

The retrieved plastics go through a granulation and multi-washing stage, and are then pelletised, bagged and sent for reuse. The fibres are washed, dried and processed for use as a pet litter, which is bagged on-site for immediate distribution to the retail sector.

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