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Proctor & Gamble makes the case for nappy recycling

ahp nappy proctor gamble treviso

Local authorities have been urged by one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies to consider partnering on a nappy recycling facility in the UK.

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) has this month opened an industrial-scale plant in Treviso (pictured above), northern Italy, to process absorbent hygienic products (AHP) recovered from local household collections.

The technology was first demonstrated by P&G more than two years ago and a second plant is planned for Amsterdam.

The technology and business case – which is sustained without any extended producer responsibility support – was set out by Ionannis Hatzopoulos, P&G’s senior manager for sustainability communications, at the Larac conference in Nottingham.

The recycling process removes human waste from the product then separates the nappies into three waste streams – super-absorbent materials (25%), mixed plastics (25%) and cellulose pulp (50%). These materials create a new revenue stream for the company – everything going into the Treviso plant is recycled.

The project has been backed by EMBRACED, an EU-funded consortium that promotes the recycling of AHP and transformation into higher-value materials such as fertilisers and bioplastics.

hatzopoulos

hatzopoulos

Hatzopoulos said a population of one million people typically produces 10,000 tonnes a year of AHP which matches the scale of the Treviso plant. For a city the size of London that would mean around eight plants.

AHP accounts for 5% of the Treviso household waste stream and the new process replaces previous practice where half went to landfill and half was incinerated.

Italian parents or users of AHP save on their waste bills (the community has pay-as-you-throw), local authorities save on gate fees to EfW or landfill operators and P&G has markets for the profitable ‘new’ materials.

Hatzopoulos acknowledged that P&G was not the first to try such recycling. MRW has reported mixed fortunes for Knowaste in the UK, the most recently being when it was thwarted by planners in west London.

“We have the right technology and I’m hoping some of you will want to speak to me to see what we can do together,” he told the conference.

 

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