Essity and Renewi – Recycling of nappies

Essity and Renewi want to play a valuable role together in the maximum material recycling of diapers. Care institutions and municipalities in particular are looking hard for a more sustainable solution. Baby diapers, for example, make up a large share of household waste: about 5 to 8%. The focus of the partnership between Renewi and Essity is to maximise recycling and close the materials value chain.

Diapers are converted into, amongst other things, cellulose which in its turn, is used as a new secondary raw material for the production of e.g. cat litter or absorbent material.


In the Netherlands 400,000 tonnes of this material is sent to incineration at waste to energy facilities each year. - It makes up for between 5% to 8% of residual waste.


How it works

Renewi takes responsibility for raw material management, and uses its processing knowledge and its customer and route network for this.  Essity takes responsibility for the products and, as a knowledge partner, offers  added value in the field of the cellulose market, life cycle assessment (LCA) and healthcare. In addition, the company is part of a valuable network within the European retail market.

Renewi was one of the two parties that collected used diapers nationwide for the Knowaste company until 2008. In recent years, Renewi has investigated several development paths, whereby after intensive research this option is seen by Renewi as the most promising to generate impact on the right scale.

After collection the waste stream is first sanitized. In the next step plastics are removed which then can be recycled.  Then the super absorbent polymers (SAPs) are taken out. The remaining cellulose is refined and ready to be used in the chemical industry.