This content was archived on 14 Jun 2013.

Nappy Days

14th June 2012

Bottom line is that recycling makes sense – staggering number of nappies sent to landfill.

File 7921Used nappies could be turned into garden furniture or roof tiles under an imaginative recycling scheme being trialled in Scotland.

Each year around 160 million nappies are sent to rubbish dumps in Scotland but a pilot scheme in four Scottish councils could put an end to that.

Over the next six weeks a disposable nappy recycling scheme will be offered to around 36,000 homes in Fife, Stirling, Perth and Kinross and North Lanarkshire. This scheme will establish whether it is practical to offer a more widespread service in the future.

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

The nappies 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 with a staggering 450,000 ending up in landfill each day in Scotland. This innovative new scheme is a fantastic step forward for recycling and makes it easier for parents to do their bit for the environment.

“It’s great that new technologies allow us to recycle even more materials. In this way, we can reuse our waste and treat it as a valuable resource with the potential to boost our economy.”

Sheila Sangster, local childminder, said:

“Although recycling at home has got a lot easier over recent years, nappies are something that I’ve always just put in the bin.  This new service offers me an easy alternative, meaning that instead of going to landfill, this waste can be put to good use.  I wish this service had been available 30 years ago when I first started childminding!”

Iain Gulland from Zero Waste Scotland said:

“Piloting different methods of collection for these products allow 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.  I would urge those living in the pilot areas to take up the scheme.”

Danny Gibson from Stirling Council, said:

“Stirling Council is at the forefront of striving towards ‘Zero Waste’.  Taking such a challenging waste as nappies out of the wastes stream is a real milestone in this journey.  If we can recycle nappies, it helps us with our goal of sending minimal waste to be buried in 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.” 

Defra research suggests an average of 4.16 nappies per baby per day, with over 90 per cent of babies using disposables.

Birth-rate in Scotland in 2011 was 58,592 and babies wear nappies for approximately two years.

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

About the trial:
Kerbside collection of absorbent hygiene products will be offered in the following areas:

Perth & Kinross trials will take place in Auchterarder, Crieff and Tulloch (Perth). Leaflets will arrive at households in these areas from Monday 17th June.

Stirlingshire trials will take place in Dunblane, Plean, Fallin and Cowie. Leaflets will arrive at households in these areas from Monday 17th June.

A collection service via recycling centres will be offered in the following areas:

Fife Dumfermline Household Waste Recycling Centre at Wellwood. Leaflets will arrive at households from 16th July (dates may be subject to change).

North Lanarkshire Stobscross Household Waste Recycling Centre, Coatbridge serving three areas of Coatbridge. Contact will be made to those households eligible to use the service. Leaflets will arrive at households from 16th July (dates may be subject to change).

The collected waste will be transferred to Knowaste’s specialist recycling facility – the only facility of this type in the UK - where it will be sterilized and the plastics and fibres are reprocessed to be turned back into new items.

About Zero Waste Scotland:

  •  Zero Waste Scotland works with businesses, communities, individuals and local authorities to help them reduce waste, recycle more and use resources sustainably.
  • Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan.
  •  More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at