Today Poopy, Tomorrow Shingles
Over the next four years, Canadian recycling firm Knowaste plans to build five facilities in the U.K. each capable of converting 36,000 tons of absorbent consumer waste products (i.e. used diapers along with feminine hygiene and adult incontinence products) annually into recycled plastic building materials such as roof shingles, siding and commercial tubing. Just think — one day in the not-too-far-off future you can live in a house built from soiled nappies! Or not.
In the U.K. alone, more than 1 million metric tons of absorbent hygiene waste, “the convenience curse of the 21st century,” is landfilled or incinerated of each year. The Knowaste recycling facilities where used hygiene products are sorted, sterilized and ground up into recycled plastic pellets will put a slight but much-needed dent in this figure.
Says Knowaste CEO Ray Browne of his company’s first diaper recycling facility in West Bromwich: “It will produce capacity for handling about a fifth of the absorbent hygiene products waste stream — equating to a saving of 110,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.”
For now, the waste will be collected from nursing homes, hospitals, and child care facilities, although in the future the domestic market may play a part in this innovative recycling scheme.