One technology, three phases. Thanks to this recycling process, used absorbent hygiene products once destined to landfill or incineration are given a new life.
Collection of used diapers is the cornerstone of the recycling process: in Italy, 11 million citizens already have access to a recycling system for used absorbent hygiene products. The waste products are collected door-to-door by specialized operators at centralized structures such as hospitals, retirement homes, pre-schools, or city recycling centres.
The material collected arrives at the diaper recycling facility, where the recovery process begins: upon accumulation of the material in the entryway, it is stocked and conveyed towards the machine’s central units.
This is the heart of the recycling process, during which the organic portion of the used items is eliminated.
In this phase, it is the autoclave that plays a fundamental role: inside it – through a combination of water vapour and pressure – the used absorbent hygiene products are sterilized and their components are pre-separated. Then, conveyor belts move the products to the dryer, in which liquids are taken out. This process allows the neutralization of malodor and the elimination of all potential pathogens.
With their rotating cylinder system, an array of separators in sequence allows to separate and recover secondary raw materials. 150 kg (330 lbs.) of cellulose, 75 kg (165 lbs.) of plastic, and 75 kg (165 lbs.) of superabsorbent polymer are recovered from each metric ton of such waste. Cellulose has a wide range of uses including the paper industry and the production of fine fabrics such as viscose. The superabsorbent polymer may be used in the floriculture sector, in the insulation of electric wires, and in other industrial applications. Finally, the recovered plastic may be employed to manufacture objects for different contexts, including homes, schools and offices. Lying fully within the scope of a circular economy, every waste product is given new life through new industrial use.