G8 Education eyes off sustainable practice in Australian first nappy recycling trial
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G8 Education eyes off sustainable practice in Australian first nappy recycling trial

by Freya Lucas

December 09, 2022

A South Australian G8 Education service is at the heart of an Australian-first nappy recycling trial which aims to explore options to minimise the environmental impact of the more than 1.5 billion disposable nappies which end up in landfill each year. 


Welly Road Early Learning Centre is working in partnership with Kimberly-Clark as part of The Nappy Loop, a trial which has been underway in SA since July 2022. 


“We are very passionate about changing things locally, to make a global impact at Welly Road, so we were privileged to have a chance to contribute to such a significant project like The Nappy Loop,”  Welly Road Early Learning Services Centre Manager Kristy Wheeler shared.


Essentially, the trial takes disposable nappies and uses anaerobic digestion to turn the organic materials in used Huggies nappies into nutrient-rich compost, as well as bioenergy created from the anaerobic digestions process is captured and used to power the recycling process.   


The plastic components are separated and evaluated for future recycled products. In addition, the anaerobic digestion process creates bioenergy which is captured and used to power the composting facility. 


“G8 is one of Australia’s largest early learning providers with 440 centres across Australia, and one of our biggest contributors to landfill is nappies which is why we are proud to be partnering in this trial so we can be part of the solution rather than the problem,” Ali Evans, G8 Education’s Head of Early Learning and Education explained.


“As educators of our future generations, sustainability is a core focus in all our 440 centres across Australia and we’re excited to contribute to this partnership and the positive environmental impact it can make,” she added.  


The Nappy Loop team is led by Kimberly-Clark Australia, who work with Australia’s national science agency the CSIRO, one of South Australia’s largest composters Peats Soils and Garden Supplies, Solo Resource Recovery and Welly Road Early Learning Centre to gather, transport and transform the nappies. 


Together, the team has collected and recycled almost two tonnes of used Huggies nappies from Welly Road proving that anaerobic digestion is a viable option for the recycling process.  


Kimberly-Clark ANZ Managing Director Belinda Driscoll said that Huggies, as the most popular brand of nappies in Australia, felt a sense of obligation to set the standard for the disposable nappy industry. 


“We believe we have a responsibility to lead by example and find better solutions for the community and our planet,” she said.


The program works on a B2B model, with Solo collecting used Huggies nappies from Welly Road and delivering them to the Peats composting facility for processing.  


“CSIRO is working with Kimberly-Clark Australia to provide scientific validation of The Nappy Loop pilot to help tackle waste,” CSIRO’s Principal Research Scientist Dr Anu Kumar shared.


“Our research for this Australian trial will help inform the team on the potential scaling of the program to help reduce the amount of nappies ending up in landfill.”  


Anaerobic digestion is a growing area of focus and possibility in Australia, and is a process that has been used successfully in Toronto, Canada to recycle disposable nappies.


“We are excited to be introducing this innovative approach in the Southern Hemisphere as we work to solve the nappy waste issue,” Pete Wadewitz, Managing Director of Peats Soils and Garden Supplies said.  


After five months of recycling used nappies, The Nappy Loop team is now exploring the opportunity to scale the program in South Australia and nationally. This includes partnering with APR Plastics to test the recycling of the recovered plastic from the nappies using pyrolysis, with the aim of having results available in early 2023.

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