Nappy recycling plant planned for Birmingham

Knowaste, the world's leading developer of recycling technologies for nappies and personal care products, has unveiled plans to develop its first UK facility at a site in Tyseley.

The £6m facility will enable the recycling of around 30 000 tonnes of nappies, about 4% of Britain's nappy waste a year, and aims to eventually recycle up to 13%.

The Canadian firm has signed an agreement with Birmingham-based collection company, Alpha Wastecare (Midlands) to collect the used items from hospitals and nursing homes in the city.

It is thought the contract could be worth £45m to Alpha over the 10-year agreement period.

Once the nappies have been collected they will be delivered to the plant where the reprocessing begins.

The nappies are firstly washed and then the material is mechanically separated into individual components so the super absorbent polymers, wood pulp and plastic can be recycled.

The reclaimed components comprise pulp fibres and plastic components which are then shipped to a company in Belgium where they are used to manufacture cladding, roof tiles and guttering.

The plant is also self-sustaining because all the non-recyclable waste is converted into green energy to power the facility.

It is also thought Knowaste is in talks with local councils about trying to arrange householder nappy collections.

Currently around 800,000 tonnes of used nappies finds its way into landfill in the UK - enough to fill Wembley Stadium eight times.

The European directive has set targets to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 2010 and local authorities face a spiralling landfill tax bill as the Treasury has agreed to increase the current rate of £32 a tonne each year until at least 2010/11.

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