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UK's first absorbent hygiene product recycling plant opens for business
The UK's first-ever facility for recycling nappies, feminine hygiene and adult incontinence products, was officially opened in West Bromwich this Monday.
Knowaste, which has opened the plant, is an absorbent hygiene product (AHP) waste recycling specialist and its Midlands site is the first of five planned over four years, which would each process 36,000 tonnes annually.
Knowaste uses state-of-the-art technology to recycle AHPs, sterilising and separating the materials to recover highly valuable plastic and fibre that can then be used for making new products, such as roof tiles or plastic components and fibre based construction and commercial tubes.
"This first site in West Bromwich represents the beginning of a £25 million overall investment in the UK, that will produce capacity for handling about a fifth of the AHP waste stream - equating to a saving of 110,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year," announced Roy Brown, CEO of Knowaste, at the opening.
"In the UK, more than one million tonnes of AHP waste is generated annually, much of which is landfilled. A significant proportion of it is produced by the commercial sector and we are proud to be working with some of the Midlands and nation's leading AHP collection companies already. They are embracing this opportunity.
"We are also developing partnerships with local authorities and their waste contractors to recycle domestic AHP waste in the future and our plant here in the Midlands and those intended for Scotland, the West and London will enable both commercial operators and local authorities to further cut carbon emissions, increase recycling and divert waste from landfill."
The AHPs for the West Midlands facility are being delivered to the site for processing by local, regional and national commercial waste operators, including OCS/Cannon Hygiene, PHS All Clear and Initial Rentokil. These operators collect this waste from washrooms, hospitals, nursing facilities and childcare nurseries.
Mike Drake, Specialist Services Divisional Director at OCS, said the company will be responsible for delivering thousands of tonnes of AHP waste to the plant in Sandwell.
The majority of the collections will come from the Midlands and will include nappies, adult incontinence items and feminine hygiene items.
"The operational opening of the Knowaste plant represents true progress for all organisations that collect absorbent hygiene waste," said Mike.
"We are now able to move forward with improved sustainability, meeting both the business aims of OCS/Cannon Hygiene and many of our customers.
"This Knowaste technology is setting us on a new path environmentally and we look forward to recycling greater quantities of AHP waste both in the Midlands and across the UK as more Knowaste facilities emerge."
In Dec 2010, Deloitte completed a Life Cycle Assessment comparing the environmental performance of Knowaste's recycling process with the existing UK disposal methods for AHPs, namely landfill and incineration.
The main findings were significant and showed that compared to these two options, the Knowaste recycling process emits up to 71% less in carbon emissions and that the West Bromwich site would save 22,536 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
This equates to:
* nearly 7,500 cars removed from UK roads
* The annual carbon emissions of more than 2000 UK citizens
* Over 100,000 LCD TVs switched off
UK waste expert Peter Jones OBE said: "Knowaste recycling technology provides an environmentally-beneficial solution to disposing of AHP waste.
"What is impressive about the Knowaste process is that they are dealing with quality, source separated materials that create consistently high standards of plastics and fibres - in consistent quantities.
"This revolutionary recycling development opens up a significant opportunity throughout the domestic, care and NHS sector to manage AHP waste to impact carbon, diversion targets and costs."
Choy Phoon, Managing Director of PHS All Clear, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to recycle a waste stream that historically, no one has been able to recycle. PHS All Clear is recycling significant tonnages with Knowaste and helping to develop a AHP recycling network throughout the United Kingdom offering zero landfill to our clients.
"As one of the UK`s leading collectors of clinical waste we feel that we have a duty to work with the market leader. In doing this we have identified Knowaste as our preferred supplier. Their state-of-the-art technology and progressive strategy complements that of PHS.
"Our aim is to divert as much waste away from landfill as possible and this is the right time and opportunity to do so."
Knowaste believes this same appetite for action exists in the public sector. With the building of capacity, in addition to the commercial sector, Knowaste is opening talks with local authorities with a view to treating domestic waste and helping the councils achieve higher recycling rates.
Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said: "Achieving Scotland's ambitious zero waste targets will require fresh thinking to recover the maximum value from all our resources.
"We are working to support Scottish councils who are looking at this new waste stream."
You can see what will be happening at the plant by visiting:
T: +44 (0) 121 580 0381
22nd September 2011