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Copenhagen will recycle a large proportion of used diapers

Copenhagen will recycle a large proportion of used diapers from childcare facilities and homes from 2024. Copenhagen Municipality wants to bring down the extra waste and will issue 4,800 containers for used nappies for use from next year. In its Waste and Resource Management Plan, Copenhagen has a goal of collecting and recycling 2.500 tons of diaper waste annually by 2024. Therefore, the process of establishing a new collection and recycling scheme has been set in motion.

​ As a first step, the City of Copenhagen conducts a large-scale sorting and collection pilot for used nappies. ​ It includes 11 apartment buildings in Copenhagen and 4 kindergartens. The scheme will focus on apartment buildings where at least six nappy-wearing children live and will also be used by early childcare institutions. “No particular smell pollution is expected because the nappies are usually disposed of in one or more bags before they are put in the containers in the yard,” the municipal proposal states.

​ The scheme is estimated to potentially recycle 3,340 tonnes of nappies per year, according to the municipality. Around 11,800 tonnes of nappies are currently incinerated in Copenhagen every year.

​ The recycling process itself will not take place in Denmark, given that no company in the country presides over the necessary facilities for the job. Nappy recycling plants are available in countries including the Netherlands, Italy and Wales.

​ The pilot includes a manual sorting test performed by the company ECONET to obtain detailed information about the level and types of wrongly sorted materials in the used diaper waste stream. The pilot collection scheme for conventional diapers was supplemented by a separate pilot on compostable diapers in selected kindergartens, which was launched in spring 2023.

​ As part of the effort, the City of Copenhagen has asked the Danish Technological Institute to provide an overview of the potential environmental effects relating to the Super Absorbent Polymers (SAPs) present in diaper waste.

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