Making in-roads to reducing waste in Wales with new Government project
The Welsh Government has trialled using recycled nappies to resurface a stretch of road on the A487 between Cardigan and Aberystwyth.
As part of Wales’ bid to become a zero waste nation by 2050, the Welsh Government has trialled using recycled nappies to resurface a stretch of road on the A487 between Cardigan and Aberystwyth.
Fibres from 4.3 tonnes of used nappies have replaced materials used to make asphalt that are normally shipped in from Europe and beyond. The other ingredient- aggregate- was sourced within a 45 mile radius, sustaining local jobs and cutting carbon by shortening the supply chain.
Nappies and other absorbent hygiene products are currently or have plans to be collected in 15 out of 22 local authorities in Wales. Still, an estimated 143 million nappies are thrown away in Wales each year.
Considered a single-use plastic, they could take hundreds of years to degrade in landfill. Though the plastic lining can be recycled easily, the fibres in the absorbing layer have previously proven a challenge.
To address this, the Welsh Government through its SMART innovation programme funded Ammanford-based NappiCycle to clean used nappies and separate the plastic and cellulose fibres for re-use. It is working with Welsh business to explore other market uses for the fibres.
The road is just one of many innovations the Welsh Government is spearheading in its aim to move to a circular economy- where waste is turned into a resource and kept in use for as long as possible.
If the trial – which will undergo rigorous environmental assessments to scrutinise breakdown of the material over time- proves successful, the initiative could be scaled up – reducing waste, tackling climate change and creating green jobs in the process.