Nappy recycling plant throws in the towel

The future of nappy recycling in the UK has been dealt a major blow with the closure of the country’s only nappy recycling plant – but alternatives are being explored.

The only facility for recycling nappies was located in West Bromwich, near Birmingham, and run by Knowaste, which made the decision to cease operations at the plant – with immediate effect – on 22nd May. This sudden closure was announced on the company’s website:

“Today, the Board of Knowaste has announced that the company is looking for a new recycling site in the West Midlands region, having outgrown its existing location in West Bromwich. However, the company regrets that as a result of this decision it will be closing the current site from immediate effect.

“Whilst the first ever operation of its kind in the UK has proven the concept for recycling absorbent hygiene products – thereby representing a major breakthrough for handling such waste, which has traditionally gone to landfill – the current site does not meet the future requirements of the business.”

The closure of the site means that nappies from several local authority areas and commercial waste management companies will have nowhere to go in order to be recycled – at least until Knowaste finds another site. The company is looking at possible sites in the West Midlands and elsewhere, but for the time being, nappies will not be recycled.

The plant, with its procedure for sterilising the nappies and then separating the component materials to be recycled in order to manufacture new products, had been groundbreaking; prior to this, nappies had gone to landfill or had been incinerated.

The previous disposal methods will now have to be put back into effect until a new plant is in operation, which is obviously not good for the environment. For this reason, Recycling Lives hopes that a solution to the nappy recycling problem is found quickly.

There are, of course, other benefits to recycling, one of which is the contribution that it makes to the local economy. There were 14 people laid off when the West Bromwich nappy recycling facility closed, and those 14 workers had had jobs as a result of recycling. We wish them well in their search for alternative employment.

As a result of its waste management solutions, Recycling Lives has expanded significantly in the last few years, and continues to grow rapidly. We have provided many jobs because of this expansion, and we ensure that our staff get the chance to undertake training and development in order to boost their skill set.

We also help people on work placements to gain skills and experience. Many of these workers are Residents of the social welfare charity that we operate, who are being supported to find work and accommodation. Previously homeless, they are undertaking the charity’s six-stage support plan to transform their lives and achieve success in the future.