Rash of nappies soils recycling

People caring for young infants are being warned that throwing soiled nappies in the blue bin could undermine the recycling efforts of their whole neighbourhood.

Published: Wednesday, 28th August 2019

An increase in the number of used nappies going in the wrong bin over the last six months has prompted the warning from Cherwell District Council’s waste and recycling team. As many as three lorry-loads of recycling every week are being contaminated by nappies, with research suggesting that one in 10 parents of under-threes have admitted putting nappies in their household recycling.*
 
Contamination with human waste could cause an entire lorry-load, representing the recycling efforts of up to 2,000 people, to be rejected.
 
Cllr Dan Sames, Cherwell’s lead member for clean and green, said: “Having a family myself, I know how hectic life can be: dealing with our rubbish is not always at the forefront of our minds and occasionally the wrong thing can go in the wrong bin.
 
“However, it should be obvious that nappies are not recyclable and should never be placed in the blue or brown bins. Attempting to recycle them can have a catastrophic effect, causing literally lorry loads of recycling to be rejected. I want to emphasise loud and clear; under no circumstances should nappies be placed in recycling, so please avoid at all costs.”
 
Confusion over whether nappies are recyclable has been blamed on the use of the Green Dot symbol on nappy packaging. The symbol indicates that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging, but it does not mean the nappies are recyclable.
 
After the council empties the blue bin, the contents are separated at a facility in Leicester, where handling used nappies could pose a health risk to staff. 
 
Disposable nappies are not recyclable because they are made of a complex blend of plastics which provide absorbency and waterproofing.