A joint campaign by the North London Waste Authority and waste management firm Biffa is seeking to highlight problems caused by nappies being disposed of within dry mixed recyclables.
Launching this week the #BinYourNappy campaign urges North London parents to dispose of nappies in their residual waste bin. It is also seeking to highlight ‘confusion’ over packaging labelling denoting whether nappies can be recycled with concern over the use of the Green Dot logo on nappy packaging.
The campaign has already attracted BBC News television coverage in the London area which showed the nappies arising at Biffa’s materials recycling facility in Edmonton, North London.
Research published to coincide with the campaign suggests that one in 10 parents of under 3s have admitted to putting nappies in with their household recycling.
“The scourge of nappy contamination also forces recycling centre workers to pull filthy nappies off conveyor belts by hand so the rest of the recycling can be processed properly,” the organisations have said in launching the campaign.
The campaign is also calling on manufacturers to make it clearer on-pack, and through their marketing communications, that nappies must go in the residual waste bin.
Chair of NLWA, Councillor Clyde Loakes, said: “It’s hard to overestimate the scale of this unsavoury problem. We know parents want to do the right thing. That’s why we’re asking parents to put used nappies in the general waste bin. Contamination of recycling damages the environment, is costly for taxpayers and leaves recycling centre staff having to remove soiled nappies by hand.”
Cllr Loakes continued: “Our research shows that there is huge confusion about the labelling on packs. We’re calling on nappy manufacturers to come on board and make things clearer for their customers and help parents’ understanding.
“The estimated cost of dealing with contaminated recycling in the next year in north London alone is nearly £1.5million – money which I’m sure most taxpayers would prefer was spent elsewhere.”
Steve Oulds, national commercial manager at Biffa Waste Services Ltd, which processes dry recyclables on behalf of the NLWA at its Edmonton MRF, said: “We see millions of nappies arrive at our facility each year. Contamination is the single biggest challenge we face on a daily basis.
“Nearly half of parents in the survey didn’t know that recycling is sorted by hand. I hope that this knowledge helps encourage everyone to dispose of every nappy in the general rubbish bin.”
According to the campaign partners, further confusion has been found around nappies marketed as ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’, with half of all respondents believing these are recyclable in some form.
Some respondents also thought whether a nappy is clean, wet or soiled makes a difference to whether it can be recycled.
The campaign has further highlighted confusion over the ‘Green Dot’ symbol – with 55% of those surveyed alongside the initiative believing that the symbol meant that outer packaging could be recycled and 13% thought it meant that either clean or used nappies could be recycled. And, in the BBC’s coverage of the campaign, residents voiced concerns over the Green Dot symbol.
In fact, the symbol only indicates that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe and does not mean that the packaging or its contents are recycled or recyclable.