Did you know that in the U.S. an estimated 15 billion disposable diapers are thrown away each year, and in the United Kingdom about 3 billion nappies (also known as diapers) are thrown away? A single diaper takes 500 years to decompose, and while it’s waiting to decompose its hazardous contents slowly contaminate the environment.
Although most of us would want these disgusting diapers thrown into a landfill, never to be seen or smelled again, there is one clever company who has figured out a way to recycle them into something useful.
This past September Knowaste launched its first diaper recycling plant in West Bromwich, United Kingdom. In addition to recycling dirty diapers, the plant recycles other absorbent hygiene products (AHP) like feminine hygiene pads and adult diapers.
Using state-of-the-art recycling technology, here’s how the products are recycled:
- Used baby diapers, feminine hygiene products and adult diapers are collected from bathrooms, nursing facilities and child care centers.
- The Knowaste process washes and sterilizes the material, and then separates the organic, plastic and absorbent polymers.
- The plastic polymers are filtered and cleaned again, and then recycled into products such as plastic wood, plastic roof tiles, recycled paper products and vinyl siding.
Watch a video of the recycling process here:
The Knowaste process can recycle and reuse up to 98% of a dirty diaper, so you can imagine the amount of landfill space this is saving.
The recycling facility in West Bromwich is one of five planned in the next four years. The company’s main recycling facility is located in Toronto, Canada.
So what do you think about this process? Is it genuinely gross, or completely clever?