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Dutch initiative to give diaper recycling a serious boost

Waste management and recycling major Renewi and hygiene products producer Essity are developing an ‘innovative’ solution for the processing of used baby diapers and incontinence materials collected from hospitals, care homes and municipalities in the Netherlands.

More than 2 billion diapers are discarded annually in the Netherlands, making up around 8% of the country’s municipal waste stream. Some 400 000 tonnes of diaper material is currently sent to incineration each year.

The focus of the partnership between Renewi and Essity is to maximise recycling and close the materials value chain. ‘Recycling nappies and incontinence materials would make a significant contribution to the ambitious goals of the Dutch government who aim to increase recycling rates for household waste to 75% in 2020 and for a full circular economy without any waste by 2050’, states Renewi.

Cellulose recovery

‘We are always looking for new, innovative ways to process waste streams into valuable raw materials,’ comments Eric Segers, director Specialties at Renewi’s Netherlands. The company has been working on a method to process and recycle incontinence materials with a focus to recover the valuable raw materials. One of the main components is a high quality cellulose fibre. Renewi will reuse the cellulose recovered in the recycling process as a secondary raw material for the chemical industry, where cellulose is widely used.

Maximise recycling

Renewi will be responsible for the source segregation and collection of these materials from the customer base and the further development of a recycling solution that will enable the recovery of the cellulose. Essity will provide knowledge about these products and their specific markets.

Renewi was created in 2017 by the merger of Shanks Group and Van Gansewinkel Groep.

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