W.E.E.E. directive that gives specific instructions of the disposal of white goods and even our food waste is on the road to being managed. But what of disposable hygiene products? As yet there is no special bin outside my house for these kind of things and given that the Shugmeister is gunning for an Olympic medal in extreme excrement production, we need one.
You could of course bring cloth nappies into the equation, but they themselves are not without their limitations and problems. In addition to the massive inconvenience (and lets face it, when you're dealing with a child or children, particularly for the first time, you can't be blamed for wanting to make life easier in those areas that you can), you also have the fact that constant washing and drying can push up your energy consumption (not to mention detergent use), add to that the initial production of cloth nappies, and the whole process can in many ways be counterproductive, though not without merit.
So it was with great excitement that I read about the new AHPS (nappies, adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products) Recycling Plant that is due to open this year in West Bromwich, in the Midlands. Canadian firm Knowaste is currently building the plant that will convert this waste into roofing tiles, absorption materials and paper products to name but a few. Of course I imagine that there will also be a need for independent research into the process, as you can assume there will be money and energy used to bring about this functioning plant - nothing is ever free, both in terms of financial and environmental cost. Indeed, concerns have been raised by the likes of Go Real, the online Nappy Information Service, who question realistic environmental results in addition to high prices. But if it works, it could be a great solution to our growing household waste problems.
To make it more cost effective, couldn't we reduce charges by trying to persuade large Nappy companies such as Pampers and Huggies to take a vested interest, in an effort to demonstrate producer responsibility? Not to mention government and local authorities who would also need to show their commitment and guidance in these matters. Money invested by these companies could also go into research into new environmental technologies that could a ensure the process is as clean and effective as possible. After all we are approaching a General Election and it would be nice to see this issue on the agenda, as so often environment, female health/hygiene and childcare matters are so often overlooked or dismissed as secondary in the face of the 'bigger' issues. We'll have to see in this respect.
Yet despite reservation, this is still a great breakthrough and one that could help individual families and of course hospitals, care facilities and other organisations that deal with this kind of waste, not to mention boost the economy in terms of the jobs and resources it will create. It may be a while before this kind of process is introduced on a large, safe and affordable scale (although there are another 4 plants planned across the country) and Shugs will probably be out of nappies by the time this happens. But it is at least comforting to know that any siblings, cousins and future generations may have this service available to them.
I would strongly suggest that you not only check out the website http://www.knowaste.com to find out more, but also make it clear to your local authorities, MLAS/MPs and the nappy production companies themselves that you support this concept in theory and would like to see it researched and developed further.
For more information on cloth nappies, check out Go Real and the Cloth Nappy Tree.