Millions of feminine hygiene products, nappies, incontinence pads and other hygiene waste currently sent to landfill by commercial organisations and public bodies can now be recycled to produce clean energy, according to PHS Group.
Businesses that send hygiene waste products to landfill face increasingly high costs for doing so because of rising landfill tax and processing costs associated with hitting UK environmental targets and dwindling landfill capacity.
Called LifeCycle, the multi-million pound investment is the first process of its kind that can operate cost-effectively and on an industrial scale, PHS says. It combines mechanical separation with chemical treatment and converts highly absorbent hygiene products into refused derived fuel (RDF), which is then supplied to the alternative energy market both in the UK and in Europe.
RDF is typically burned in biomass plants to produce electricity and hot water either for municipal power systems, the National Grid or individual companies.
“We have spent almost a decade refining the LifeCycle process and we now have a viable option for diverting hygiene waste products away from landfill”
Justin Tydeman, Chief Executive of PHS Group, said: “The commercial sector is continually reviewing its impact on the environment. Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue. We have spent almost a decade refining the LifeCycle process and we now have a viable option for diverting hygiene waste products away from landfill.
“For the first time, we can all enjoy the benefits that the products bring and know that they are disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.”
“By converting hygiene waste products into RDF instead of sending them to landfill, we can help the sector to achieve environmental targets and reduce waste management costs. Our goal is zero to landfill for our customers’ hygiene waste products by the end of 2017.”
Currently, hygiene product waste is either incinerated or sent to landfill. Neither option is ideal. Burning wet waste is expensive due to the energy required to heat and then burn it. Sending hygiene waste products to landfill is harmful to the environment because of the time it takes for the waste to decompose.
Organisations sending hygiene waste products to landfill also face increasingly high costs because of the need to hit UK environmental targets to tackle landfill capacity issues.