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Green Light for Huggies Envirocomp(osting)

27th March 2007

Green Light for Huggies Envirocomp(osting) Solution

Huggies New Zealand today announced its sponsorship of New Zealand’s first commercial nappy composting operation which is set to open in Canterbury later this year.

The composting operations will be owned and operated by Canterbury parents and business owners Karen and Karl Upston using the HotRot composting technology developed locally by R5 Solutions.

Grant Hartley, Head of Marketing said that Huggies contacted Karen after seeing media coverage of her prototype composting trial last year:-

“We were impressed by the combination of Kiwi technology and initiative and this matched our own commitment to evaluate alternative solutions for disposing of nappy waste.”

“We know that mums and dads prefer disposable nappies for their skin care, dryness and leakage protection and the convenience for their babies. We know as well that the environmental impact of cloth nappies compared to disposable nappies is very similar. There is compelling evidence from government led life cycle analysis in the UK and elsewhere that disposable nappies and cloth nappies have an equal amount of environmental impacts when you consider all aspects of production, use of resources and disposal. However it is undeniable that disposable nappies are often singled out for one reason – because they end up in a landfill.”

“Whilst nappies actually represent less than 2% of landfill, much less than food scraps and organic waste which make up 54%, we know that disposable nappies punch above their weight in terms of the amount of attention they get.”

“Investment in the Huggies Envirocomp Solution is a whole new opportunity enabling us to provide parents with a possible alternative to landfill. We know that there is an ongoing perception that landfill is bad but sometimes this is the best and most efficient way to dispose of waste – now we hope there will be a realistic and popular alternative.”

After running a home-based baby care business selling nappies for the past few years, Karen decided to investigate whether disposable nappies could be composted:-

“People are made to feel guilty about using disposable nappies but our lives are much busier than in the past; mums are going back to work sooner and when they get home they want to spend quality time with their children not washing nappies.”

“Disposable nappies are visible – we see them in our rubbish bin, landfill and media. On the other hand parents don’t tend to see the extra use of water, electricity and chemicals used with cloth nappies. With two children of our own in nappies at the time, Karl and I decided to conduct a trial with our friends and clients to compost nappies.”

R5 Solutions provided their prototype Hot Rot composting machine and the trial was opened to 200 families, preschools, and other institutions with phenomenal success.

“We had families traveling up to one hour in each direction to drop off their disposable nappies. We were surprised by the sheer number of people waiting for this type of service to be made available and prepared to travel and to pay for it.” Karen said.

As a result of this, Karen and Karl have teamed up with R5 Solutions to provide the technology and one of the world’s leading nappy manufacturers Huggies NZ as a sponsor to bring to New Zealand what they believe is the first commercial nappy composting operation in the world.

The plant will initially compost 2.5 tonnes of waste per day or the equivalent of 15,000 nappies and is able to quadruple to meet demand.

George Pottinger, Director of R5 Solutions said that they have simply replicated in their HotRot composting systems the natural process of composting which occurs, for example, on the forest floor:

“We have taken that natural process and made it as efficient as possible. Nappy waste and green waste enter one end of a U shaped vessel which has a rotating shaft running through it. The waste moves down the vessel as part of a continuous process and over a period of two to three weeks it decomposes and out the other end comes compost.”

“Commercially to our knowledge no-one has done this before - probably because it’s difficult but also because there hasn’t been the impetus. This is a great result for us and a great result for New Zealand.”

The Huggies Envirocomp Solution is expected to be operational in Canterbury by the end of 2008.


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