MILLIONS of Britain’s nappies could soon be recycled in Oxford and then used to keep flood waters at bay.
Knowaste, which set up the UK’s first recycling facility for absorbent hygiene products in 2011, is looking at Oxford as a location for a new larger site to meet market demand.
The new facility, which would recycle products such as nappies, forms part of the company’s strategy to develop a number of sites around the UK.
The firm has put Oxford on its list, although it has not specified where in the city.
Business development director Paul Richardson said: “The location of the new facility is critical and Oxford is one place we are looking at.
“We want to find an optimal site close to sources of sustainable heat, power and water that is also optimally located for us to meet the demands of local authorities and hygiene companies.”
Knowaste has recycled more than 77m nappies since it opened its first plant in the West Midlands two years ago.
But last year the company closed its original site as it was not big enough to allow the company to expand its operations and grow its business.
That decision shocked councils which had been using the facility to improve recycling rates.
The company isolates plastics and fibres from the absorbant hygiene products, separating them from human waste so the nappy or incontinence pad can be recycled. This is used to create an additive for concrete, plastic sheets, flood defence systems and containers for used disposable nappies.
Rebecca Lake, of Oxfordshire Waste Partnership, which brings together local councils, said none of its councils recycle nappies.
She said: “There has been no local facility to take nappies and if there was something close by we would certainly look into it.
“The problem with recycling nappies is the different mix of materials they are made of. It is about the right technology to separate them all.
“We do promote the use of real nappies as a good alternative to using disposable ones, and they can be washed and reused. We offer a free trial kit to parents who are interested.”
Knowaste says that one million tonnes of absorbant hygiene products waste is generated in the UK every year.