G8 Education’s Welly Road Early Learning Centre is at the centre of an Australian-first nappy recycling trial. In partnership with Kimberly-Clark, this trial could be Australia’s answer to preventing 1.5 billion disposable nappies ending up in landfill each year.

The first trial of its kind in Australia, The Nappy Loop has been underway in South Australia since July 2022 and uses anaerobic digestion to turn the organic materials in used Huggies nappies into nutrient-rich compost, as well as bioenergy that is captured and used to power the recycling process.

The Nappy Loop

“G8 is one of Australia’s largest early learning providers with 440 centres across Australia, and one of our biggest contributors to landfill is nappies which is why we are proud to be partnering in this trial so we can be part of the solution rather than the problem,” said Ali Evans, G8 Education’s Head of Early Learning and Education.

The Nappy Loop team is led by Kimberly-Clark Australia, along with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, one of South Australia’s largest composters Peats Soils and Garden Supplies, Solo Resource Recovery and one of G8 Education’s South Australian centres Welly Road Early Learning Centre. Together, the team has collected and recycled almost two tonnes of used Huggies nappies from the Welly Road centre, proving that anaerobic digestion is a viable option for the recycling process.

“Through this partnership the nappies changed every day at our Welly Road centre are recycled instead of going into landfill. As educators of our future generations, sustainability is a core focus in all our 440 centres across Australia and we’re excited to contribute to this partnership and the positive environmental impact it can make,” said Ms Evans.

“As Huggies is the most popular nappy brand in Australia, we not only set the standards in baby care, our goal is to set the standards for our industry in sustainability too. We believe we have a responsibility to lead by example and find better solutions for the community and our planet,” said Kimberly-Clark ANZ Managing Director, Belinda Driscoll.

The Nappy Loop trial has adopted a B2B model, with Solo collecting used Huggies nappies from G8 Education’s Welly Road Early Learning Centre in Mount Barker and delivering them to the Peats composting facility for processing.

“We are very passionate about changing things locally, to make a global impact at Welly Road, so we were privileged to have a chance to contribute to such a significant project like The Nappy Loop.” said Welly Road Early Learning Services Centre Manager Kristy Wheeler.

Utilising anaerobic digestion, the organic material in the used nappies is transformed into nutrient-rich compost whilst the plastic components are separated and evaluated for future recycled products. In addition, the anaerobic digestion process creates bioenergy which is captured and used to power the Peats composting facility.

“CSIRO is working with Kimberly-Clark Australia to provide scientific validation of The Nappy Loop pilot to help tackle waste. Our research for this Australian trial will help inform the team on the potential scaling of the program to help reduce the amount of nappies ending up in landfill,” said CSIRO’s Principal Research Scientist Dr Anu Kumar.

“Anaerobic digestion is a growing area of focus and possibility in Australia. The process has been used successfully in Toronto, Canada to recycle disposable nappies and we are excited to be introducing this innovative approach in the Southern Hemisphere as we work to solve the nappy waste issue,” said Managing Director of South Australia’s largest composter, Pete Wadewitz.

After five months of recycling used nappies, The Nappy Loop team is now exploring the opportunity to scale the program in South Australia and nationally. This includes partnering with APR Plastics to test the recycling of the recovered plastic from the nappies using pyrolysis, with the aim of having results available in early 2023.