Knowaste submits plans for West London nappy plant

The company behind the UK’s first ever nappy recycling facility, Knowaste, has today (September 14) submitted plans to build a new facility in Hayes, West London.

Knowaste is looking to invest around £14m in the development of its new site, at the Hayes 180 business park close to the A312. It is hoped that if the plans are approved by the London borough of Hillingdon, the new plant will be in operation by early 2017.

Knowaste Image 2
Knowaste’s West Bromwich plant closed in 2013, but the firm is hoping to build a new facility in West London

The company had been known to be seeking a suitable site in the west of London to develop the new plant, after its original facility in West Bromwich was forced to close in May 2013 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The cost of operating the plant had been cited among the reasons for its closure, while securing markets for the end products are also thought to have been an issue.

Speaking to letsrecycle.com Paul Richardson, UK business development director at Knowaste, said he was ‘pleased’ that the company is now moving forward with the plans.

He explained that the plant will predominantly be fed with AHP waste from commercial sources, but that it would also take in material from local authority collections.

Supply

Mr Richardson added that the company is in ‘advanced discussions’ with several businesses and councils over the supply of material, but that formal agreements could not be made until the planning process had begun. Supply contracts are likely to be agreed later this year, he added.

Asked whether he though local authorities would be reluctant to sign supply agreements due to the closure of the West Bromwich plant, he explained that the company would be seeking to agree to long-term deals with local authorities and that agreements had only been in place for the short-term supply of material to the former facility.

He added that the West Bromwich site was closed in 2013 having fulfilled its purpose to test the technology and markets for the products from the recycling process and that Knowaste had concluded at the time that an investment in a significantly larger location would allow it to maximise the market opportunities.

Investment in the plant is coming from within the Knowaste Group, both in the UK and US, as well as external capital investment.

Process

Knowaste’s proposed system involves separating absorbent hygiene products (AHPs) into recyclable plastics and fibres.

The first stage of the process involves shredding the bagged AHPs that are deposited inside the facility. Once shredded the waste is separated, sterilised using advanced thermal treatment technology and sorted to remove any contaminants.

According to Knowaste the plastics will continue through a granulation and multi-washing stage, before being pelletised, bagged and sent off site for use. Whilst the fibres are washed, dried and processed for use as a pet litter which is bagged on site for immediate distribution to the retail sector.

Developing end markets for the material will be crucial to the plant’s success and Knowaste claims to have built strategic partnerships with a distributor of pet litter and a manufacturer of plastic bins for the use of its end products.

If approved, the Hayes 180 site would be the biggest plant of its kind in the UK. The facility would process at least 36,000 tonnes of AHP waste per annum.

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