Used tampons and nappies being used to fuel UK power stations

22nd March 2017 | Recycling

A British waste company is salvaging sanitary products in order to duel power stations. The PHS group said it will pick out items like nappies, tampons and incontinence pads – known in the industry as absorbent hygiene products – so they can be dried and then burned.

The firm, the first in the country to attempt the operation, is hoping to turn all of the 45,000 tonnes of absorbent hygiene products it handles into bales for burning by the end of 2017.

“Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives, but disposing of them has always been an issue,” said chief executive Justin Tydeman. “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.”

Absorbent Hygiene Products

PHS removes waste for 90,000 customers across the UK and Ireland, including offices, schools and care homes. Ordinarily hygiene waste products are either sent to landfill or burned. Burning wet waste before it has been dried is expensive because it has to be heated first. Under PHS’s patented LifeCycle programme, the commercial hygiene waste is collected from the likes of cinemas, shopping centres and leisure centres and sent to a specialised facility in the West Midlands. Any moisture is squeezed out of this waste before the burning process.

PHS believe that hygiene products take up to 500 years to decompose and it one of the largest contributors to UK landfill. An estimated three billion nappies are thrown away each year in the UK – according to Environment Agency – and, the average woman is believed to buy more than 11,000 tampons in her lifetime.

The PHS idea is mimicked elsewhere in Europe, including Sweden, which has run out of rubbish because of its recycling success.

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