Scheme to recycle nappies as roof tiles

Civic amenity site
Civic amenity site

St ANDREWS is to take part in a pilot project which could see used nappies turned into garden furniture or roof tiles under an imaginative recycling scheme.

The initiative is being trialled in parts of Scotland, with St Andrews offering a collection service via its recycling centre and civic amenity operation in Largo Road. Recycling centres in North Lanarkshire are also to be involved, while kerbside collections will be available in Perth and Kinross and Stirlingshire council areas.

As well as disposable nappies, incontinence products and other related items like wet wipes, nappy sacks and cotton wool will also be suitable for the recycling collection.

Over the next six weeks, a disposable nappy recycling scheme will be offered to around 36,000 homes in the four council areas to establish whether it is practical to offer a more comprehensive service in the future.


Funded by Zero Waste Scotland, the scheme will make it easier for parents in the pilot areas to do their bit for the environment by recycling some of the 450,000 nappies currently dumped every day in Scotland.

They will be recycled to create a range of products including park benches, garden furniture, decking, bollards, railway sleepers, fencing, roof tiles and cardboard.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Disposable nappies, although convenient, do have a huge impact on the environment. This innovative new scheme is a fantastic step forward for recycling and makes it easier for parents to do their bit for the environment.”

Chris Ewing, senior manager (sustainability) with Fife Council said: “We welcome the opportunity to take part in trials that will help identify which system, if any, best suits householders. We know when these products are sent to landfill, they breakdown and emit damaging greenhouse gases.”

Iain Gulland, of Zero Waste Scotland, added: ”Piloting different methods of collection for these products allows us to evaluate the system people prefer and are most likely to use. Turning nappies and other absorbent hygiene products into products like decking and benches might sound surprising, but putting them to good use is far better than sending them to landfill.”


Roy Brown, chief executive of Knowaste, said: “Our plant is a specialist recycling facility, which is the first of its kind in the UK. We use new technology to allow us to turn absorbent hygiene products, previously unsuitable for recycling, into valuable plastics and fibres, which can then be used to make new products.

“We are delighted to support the trial collection services in Scotland, which we hope will lead to a wider adoption of the recycling service across the country.”

Research suggests an average of 4.16 nappies are used per baby per day, with over 90 per cent of babies using disposables. The birth-rate in Scotland in 2011 was 58,592 and babies wear nappies for approximately two years.

The collected waste will be transferred to Knowaste’s specialist recycling facility where it will be sterilised and the plastics and fibres reprocessed to be turned back into new items.