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The majority of their collections will come from the Midlands and will include nappies, adult incontinence items and feminine hygiene items.

Drake said: “The operational opening of the Knowaste plant represents true progress for all organisations that collect absorbent hygiene waste.

“We are now able to move forward with improved sustainability, meeting both the business aims of OCS/Cannon Hygiene and many of our customers.”

In December 2010, Deloitte completed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) comparing the environmental performance of Knowaste’s recycling process with the existing UK disposal methods for AHPs, namely landfill and incineration.

The main findings were significant and showed that compared to these two options, the Knowaste recycling process emits up to 71% less carbon emissions and that the West Bromwich site would save 22,536 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

This equates to:

• nearly 7,500 cars removed from UK roads

• The annual carbon emissions of more than 2000 UK citizens

• Over 100,000 LCD TVs switched off

Knowaste believes this same appetite for action exists in the public sector. With the building of capacity, in addition to the commercial sector, Knowaste is opening talks with local authorities with a view to treating domestic waste and helping the councils achieve higher recycling rates. Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Achieving Scotland’s ambitious zero waste targets will require fresh thinking to recover the maximum value from all our resources.

“We are working to support Scottish councils who are looking at this new waste stream.”

All UK governments see diverting waste from landfill and recycling more as a priority; England targets 50% recycling by 2020. As a strategic aim of Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish government targets 70% recycling of all wastes and no more than 5% landfill by 2025. Northern Ireland is setting a recycling target of 60% by 2020 and Wales’ Towards Zero Waste’ policy framework aims to reduce dependency on landfill and targets 70% of municipal waste being recycled or composted by 2020.

Knowaste joins other waste treatment operators in providing solutions that operate at a higher level of the waste hierarchy and which, along with waste prevention, can benefit the environment.

Facts on AHP waste

Population is rising fast, which will create more AHP waste.

• The world population of more than six billion people is set to increase to nearly eight billion people by 2025.

• The latest records in the UK by the National Statistics Office sets the population at 60.2 million and set to rise to 67 million by 2031. The use of disposable nappies has increased over the past 20 years as a result of their convenience. A baby will use 6,000 disposable nappies before being potty trained at an average age of 2.5 years.

• One baby’s disposable nappies fill 40 black sacks in a year.

• In the UK around three billion disposable nappies are used every year – generating about a half a million tonnes of waste. Adult incontinence product usage is rising as well.

• People are living longer.

• Baby boomers are retiring.

• The fastest growing age group in the UK is people over 80.

Feminine hygiene products also contribute to the growing problem of AHP use. In the UK, about 18 million women use sanitary protection products which generate over 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.

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