Knowaste to resubmit plans for London nappy plant

Hygiene waste specialist Knowaste Ltd is resubmitting its planning application to construct what would be the UK’s only dedicated nappy recycling facility in the London borough of Hillingdon, West London.

The development is planned for the Hayes 180 business park on Uxbridge Road, close to two schools
The development is planned for the Hayes 180 business park on Uxbridge Road, close to two schools
The development is planned for the Hayes 180 business park on Uxbridge Road, close to two schools

The £15 million plant, on the border of Southall and Hayes, would reportedly use ‘unique’ recycling technology to process up to 40,000 tonnes per year of absorbent hygiene products (AHPs) – primarily nappies– into plastic pellets and pet litter.

However, the Canadian-owned company withdrew its planning application on March 1 2016 shortly before it was due to go before Hillingdon council’s planning committee, having originally submitted the application in September last year (see letsrecycle.com story).

According to Knowaste, councillors on the committee had “at the last minute” requested more details regarding the proposed developments odour management system, prompting the firm to withdraw the application in order to submit a new one which includes the requested details.

An application withdrawal notice appeared on the Hillingdon council website last month as a result, but UK business development director at Knowaste, Paul Richardson, insisted the firm was resubmitting its application imminently and still hoped to have the plant operational next year.

Speaking to letsrecycle.com, Mr Richardson said: “It is all still very much alive and that application is going in as we speak.

“What happened was, we submitted the original planning application back in August and it was due to go to committee in early March, but at the last minute the council requested more detail on our odour management system. Everything else was the same.

“The unit is being constructed as we speak. The site itself has already got planning permission, it is just a change of use that we are seeking.”


Paul Richardson
Knowaste business development director

“Usually the exact nature of systems can be agreed further down the line. We couldn’t give it to them in that time frame, so we took the decision to withdraw the application to add in the detail.”

Submission

He said a new application was being submitted “as we speak” and that he was “hopeful it should be the usual planning time frame of 13 weeks, which would mean a committee date in July. It puts us behind a few weeks but we are still hoping to be up and running by mid-2017.”

Knowaste is investing around £15 million in the facility, he said, which is to be situated on the Hayes 180 business park on Uxbridge Road, close to houses as well as Blair Peach Primary School and Guru Nanak Secondary School.

A local petition was launched last year against the development citing its proximity to the schools and concerns over potential smells, vermin and traffic issues, but it only attracted nine signatures.

The Hillingdon plant is the first of five the company claims it plans to build throughout the UK and is being designed and constructed by engineering firm Haden Freeman Ltd. It is expected to employ around 20 staff once operational.

Mr Richardson added: “The unit is being constructed as we speak. The site itself has already got planning permission, it is just a change of use that we are seeking.”

The company had been seeking a site for a new nappy recycling facility since its original plant in West Bromwich – the UK’s first such facility – was unexpectedly forced to close in May 2013, amid concern over operation costs and securing markets for the end-products (see letsrecycle.com story).

However, Mr Richardson said: “I think people were surprised about the West Bromwich facility, but it was just a development plant, not a commercial facility – it was never a long-term facility.”

Further developments

According to Mr Richardson, the UK produces around 1.1 million tonnes of waste nappies each year, of which 876,000 tonnes comes from local authorities.

And, once the Hillingdon plant is complete, he said Knowaste was also looking at constructing similar facilities in the Midlands, North East England, Scotland and Wales, amid interest from the likes of the NHS as well as hazardous, hygiene and healthcare waste service providers PHS Group, SRCL and OCS.

Mr Richardson also said Knowaste had “a lot of authorities now enquiring” – such as Luton, Oxford and Surrey – about the Hillingdon facility and its technology, adding that “we are expecting to get more once the planning procedure gets fully underway”.

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