A true Circular Economy solution for nappy waste?

Japanese consumer goods company Unicharm, manufacturer of disposable nappies and other hygiene products, is reporting significant progress in the nappy recycling efforts they have been developing since 2015, which includes an ozonation technique to reclaim and sanitise pulp from used nappies for re-use in new nappies. This is the first reported success for such a process, which offers significant hope for a true Circular Economy solution for the use of disposable nappies.

By reclaiming and re-using the pulp in this way, Unicharm report considerable potential for the reduction or even elimination of the deforestation associated with traditional disposable nappy manufacturing, as well as reduced water consumption and a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

For the next phase of the project the company have teamed up with Shibushi City, which has had the top recycling rate of all Japanese municipalities for 10 years straight, and waste collection businesses – Japan’s equivalents of Green Bottoms – to separately collect used nappies from homes and businesses for use in the company’s trials of the recycling technique.

Unicharm’s ultimate goal is a fully recycling-orientated model of disposable nappy production, a global first for this important product line. Although it’s still relatively early days, it is hoped that the adoption of true Circular Economy thinking by such a large corporation could stimulate related efforts from their peers around the world and we will not be alone in keenly monitoring their progress.

For more on this story, head over to Unicharm’s own blog post here: http://www.unicharm.co.jp/english/csr/special03/index.html