News & Analysis

Maker of Huggies nappies Kimberly-Clark partners with startup Relivit to close the loop on nappy recycling

- December 18, 2014 3 MIN READ

Kimberly-Clark Australia, the maker of Huggies nappies, has today announced its partnership with Sydney and Melbourne based startup Relivit to pursue a solution to recycling disposable nappies.

Absorbent Hygiene Waste (AHW) has a very serious impact on our environment. Currently, Australia produces 450,000 tonnes (AHW) every year – this would fill up the MCG stadium twice over. New South Wales alone sends more than 120,000 tonnes of AHW to landfill every year; and for every tonne of nappies send to landfill, 1.5 tonnes of carbon emissions are released. Australian babies use about 5.6 million nappies every day, which contributes to a significant portion of carbon emissions. 

As a result of the partnership between Kimberly-Clark and Relivit, the startup offering a technology solution that allows over 95 percent of AHW (disposable nappies, female hygiene and adult incontinence products) to be diverted away from landfill, the former will send manufacturing waste from its Huggies Nappy Mill in South-West Sydney to Relivit for recycling.

The partnership with the Huggies brand, which takes a 66 percent share of the market, will give consumers in the future the option to recycle their nappies and other AHW for the first time in the country.

With Australian babies using more than 5 million nappies per day and incontinence pad usage (currently making up 7 percent of AHW) expected to double in the next 20 years, the new partnership will help significantly reduce the burden of landfill on our environment at a time when Australia’s landfills are quickly running out of space.

“For years we have been working hard to identify a waste processing option that would enable our Huggies Nappies, Poise and Depend adult care products, and our U by Kotex female hygiene products to be recycled post use. To date, there has been no technology in Australia to recycle and recover the materials of these products. Therefore, we’re thrilled to be supporting Relivit in establishing Australia’s first absorbent hygiene waste facility,” said Jacquie Fegent-McGeachie, Head of Sustainability & Corporate Affairs at Kimberly-Clark Australia & New Zealand.

“We believe that Relivit’s business model, which is set to make recycling Absorbent Hygiene Waste cheaper than landfill, will be a game changer for waste management in Australia. Relivit has the technology to recover the materials from absorbent hygiene products post-use and will help to address landfill. Therefore, partnering with Relivit makes both business and environmental sense.”

Excited about the new agreement, Mark Dunn, Managing Director of Relivit, said having a major company like Kimberly-Clark, which has wide influence in the market it operates in, partnering with the startup is a “tremendous opportunity”.

“With Kimberly-Clark on-board, joining our other partners Initial Hygiene and Bunzl Outsourcing Services, we’re hoping to secure the final piece of funding needed to start building our first facility in NSW,” said Dunn.

“This will allow us to create 70 new, sustainable jobs, divert tens of thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill and reclaim millions of dollars’ worth of materials. The facility would save the same carbon emissions as removing 5,625 cars from our roads, if each was to drive 15,000 km a year.”

Once the targeted capital investment has been secured, Relivit’s plant will recover the paper fibre, plastic and super absorbent polymer (SAP) contained in absorbent hygiene waste to be used to manufacture new products such as park benches, building materials and more. The plastics can be manufactured into wood substitute products such as outdoor furniture, decking; the paper fibre into animal bedding and litter; the SAP can be used in agriculture to bind water into the top soil and the organics can be used as a fertiliser.

Relivit will provide AHW collection services to aged care facilities, child care centres, hospitals, local councils, washroom hygiene service providers and absorbent hygiene product manufacturers.


Image source: www.kimberly-clark.com.au