Knowaste, the first company to recycle absorbent hygiene products (AHP), including nappies and adult incontinence material, has joined a consortium of 12 companies with a challenge to turn waste that would otherwise be incinerated or end up in landfill, into valuable raw materials for the chemical industry.
The types of waste involved include biodegradable waste, nappies, compost and sieving material from wastewater. Knowaste will supply fibre from its unique AHP recycling process, which could be used to make the raw materials for bio-plastics.
The project is designed to improve yield, reduce production costs and boost confidence in the technology, by scaling up from laboratory to test scale. It will produce a blueprint for a pilot plant, which converts waste into furans that could be operational by 2019. It will bring the commercial production of raw materials, along with the circular economy significantly closer.
The project, with a budget of €1.3m, is being funded by the industrial consortium and by the Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) Chemistry.
Monique Wekking, Business Development manager of Biorizo – “This is a key milestone. At the end of last year, we convincingly proved that it is possible, on a lab scale, to convert waste streams into furans, the raw materials for aromatics, with a highly promising business case. We are now scaling up and working towards our ultimate goal: commercial production of bio-aromatics.”
Paul Richardson, Business Development Director UK, said: “This is a very exciting project to be a part of and a great link up with industry. During phase 1 of the Biorizon project, which tested the waste streams, nappies were identified as the best conversion waste. As the first company to recycle AHPs, like nappies, we have the technology to really bolster this innovative scheme.
“Our recycling process is considered to be the most sustainable solution to managing AHP waste, saving up to 70% of carbon dioxide emissions when compared to the usual disposal methods of landfill and incineration. We are able to recycle over 97% of the AHP product with our unique and exciting technology.”
The consortium, led by the Biorizon Shared Research Centre, represents all links of the value chain including waste processors like Knowaste, water treatment companies, a designer and builder of pilot facilities and a large scale user of raw materials.
Monique Wekking, Business Development manager of Biorizon, said: “This is a key milestone. At the end of last year, we convincingly proved that it is possible, on a lab scale, to convert waste streams into furans, the raw materials for aromatics, with a highly promising business case. We are now scaling up and working towards our ultimate goal: commercial production of bio-aromatics.”
Aromatics are one of the main feedstocks of the chemical industry, constituting 40% of the total market.
Originating from North America, Knowaste has been researching and developing technology to recycle AHPs including nappies, incontinent pads and feminine hygiene products since the 1990s.