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Japanese seek second life for used nappies

Japanese disposable hygiene products manufacturer Unicharm has announced plans to set up a collection and recycling infrastructure for used absorbent pads. By 2030 it expects to have at least ten facilities in operation throughout the country.

As most used nappies are currently incinerated, the company hopes to speed up moves to recycle them thus to reduce carbon emissions. The firm’s ambition comes as the Japanese government is increasingly driving companies to take responsibility and contribute to greater recycling of their products and materials.

In view of Japan’s aging population, with a consequent increase in the use of adult disposable diapers, Unicharm believes it is essential to collect these used products more efficiently. Some 20 billion disposable diapers are manufactured in Japan on a yearly basis. The adult napkin market is growing at 6 to 10% a year, and already worth EUR 1.2 billion by catering to Japan’s elderly population. Japan has the highest percentage of people above 65 in the world, making up more than 20%  of the population.

Unicharm has developed a special technology to recover pulp fibres from used nappies and clean them, reports the Japan Times. The company has been conducting tests on collecting and recycling in several cities.

A recycling network is planned in cooperation with the relevant local governments.

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