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13 September 2016

Dirty Nappies as Home Insulation?

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It may not be the most appealing subject to talk about, but soiled nappies generate a massive amount of waste, with research suggesting that around 3 billion are thrown away in the UK, while in the US it's closer to 20 billion. These nappies are then discarded into landfills, where they can take hundreds of years to fully degrade.

So, what can be done about all that waste? A new project from Dutch tech company Biorizon, known as Waste2Aromatics, thinks it has the answer, as reported by The Guardian.

The project, working in conjunction with various companies, aims to convert the virgin wood fibre from recycled nappies and other absorbent hygiene products (AHPs) into bio-aromatics. Bio-aromatics are raw materials used in the chemical industry to create coatings, lubricants and performance plastics, among other products.

Plans are already underway for a pilot plant in the Netherlands, due to be operational in 2019. Biorizon project manager, Murk van Rooijen, has already stated that the project "hope(s) to create small amounts of these chemicals in the next 18 months."

Currently much of the bio-aromatics used in the industry are derived from fossil fuels, which obviously carries with it a substantial environmental impact. Murk van Rooijen has said that while the benefits of the project in terms of CO2 emissions are yet to be calculated, they hope to have the relevant data within 6 months.

One of the companies working with Waste2Aromatics is Knowaste, a UK-based nappy recycler, who will be supplying the used nappies for the project.

Knowaste have ambitious plans themselves, hoping to soon be recovering and recycling a substantial 18% of the country's AHP waste by building 5-7 new plants in the next 5 years. Having said that, they were recently denied planning permission for a new plant in West London on the basis of 'potential odour problems' (that sounds like a joke, it really isn't!).

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.