EDDC officers and councillors visit NappiCycle
EDDC officers and councillors visit NappiCycle

A scheme to recycle nappies in East Devon in an environmentally friendly way is being investigated by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Councillors and officers went on a successful fact-finding mission in Wales recently to visit NappiCycle – one of the only companies in the world which processes and recycles used nappies and other AHPs (absorbent hygiene products).

NappiCycle uses friction washing to break down used nappies and AHPs into clean reusable products. In Wales, the recycled nappies are then being used in asphalt for road surfacing, composite deck boards, and other secondary products.

The process is run from renewable electricity and some clever chemistry with natural minerals, which means it offers a reported 94 per cent carbon saving compared to disposing of the products through an Energy for Waste plant (the current disposal route in East Devon).

The next steps for EDDC will be to arrange the specifics of the trial and check the data, information, and finances to ensure the proposal is viable. It is anticipated the trial, using a test area in East Devon, could start from Autumn 2024 – this is all subject to permits being obtained.

Nappies and AHP would be collected at the kerbside by  our contractor Suez and recycled by NappiCycle.

Not only will this give residents more space in their black bin, which is collected every three weeks, help the environment through re-use and carbon reduction, but it could also see EDDC leading the way for councils’ in England.

This work is part of EDDC’s mission to recycle as much as possible, in a way that’s as easy as possible for residents.

It all comes following an agreement for a budget to trial the scheme through the EDDC Recycling and Waste (R&W) Partnership Board in 2023. EDDC’s R&W Board were impressed with the potential for circular economy uses in the future in Devon, with the prospect that East Devon car parks and possibly Devon’s roads could use asphalt with this recycled component.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC’s portfolio holder for Coast, Country, and Environment, said:

“If the proposed trial is successful, East Devon could be the first English authority to take up this innovative nappy recycling. Nappies are considered to be one of the largest single problematic products  for our residual waste bins, and removing these products and recycling them instead would help our residents and at the same time help the environment too."

“Following the lead from the Welsh Government, who are forward-thinking when it comes to recycling and the impact on the environment, will see  East Devon increase its recycling percentage even higher, to what is already one of the best performing recycling Councils in England ”