Well done to EnviroComp and Biffa for getting this story about composting nappies on BBC Breakfast just before the Waste Prevention Plan for England was published on 11 December 2013.
Composting nappy waste is certainly a better business model than Knowaste’s recycling plant. There would only have been 6 nappy recycling processors in the UK so the road miles would have been a disaster.
EnviroComp’s composting process has the advantage of having been tried and tested in New Zealand. The treatment of the disposable nappies can happen relatively locally. Could this happen in central London?
It will still require separate collections of nappies. That’s a challenge. It would be good if customers pay for the collection or get rewarded for dropping off at a nappy bank, somewhere they are going anyway, such as the supermarket – to reduce road miles and prevent the additional costs being added to council tax bills.
The plastic still has to be sieved off and is sent for incineration. So unfortunately that’s toxic. The superabsorbent gel remains in the compost. That means it’s going to end up in the food chain eventually. We don’t know what happens to birds that have eaten worms that have eaten superabsorbent gel. The best thing to do is for Europe to ban superabsorbent gel from single-use nappies. We’ve been calling for this for some time.
We also need to consider the impacts of the manufacture, packaging and distribution of 4-6,000 single-use nappies per baby.
Those of you who frequent this blog will also have seen our concerns that disposable nappies lengthen the time children stay in nappies and there are health issues/costs – financial and environmental.
Still, this is better than landfill, incineration or recycling nappies. However nappy laundry services, reusable nappies and elimination communication are even better. Thanks to all of you who are increasing real nappy use across London and reducing the impacts of single-use nappies. Enjoy your baby!