IT’S a subsection of everyday waste that no one really likes to think about, but it could mean big business for the Shoalhaven.
Nowra could become the home of a revolutionary recycling program that has the ability to transform disposable nappies, continence aids and sanitary pads into usable items like fence posts, park benches, speed humps and pet bedding.
The project will tap into a multi-million dollar niche sector worth about $120 million.
Recycling company Relivit has signed a memorandum of understanding with Australian Paper to establish the country’s first nappy and incontinence pad recycling service at the Shoalhaven mill at Bolong, east of Bomaderry.
Using Australian first absorbent hygiene waste (AHW) recycling technology, Relivit says it can divert 95 per cent of the 450,000 tonnes of the country’s nappies, sanitary pads and incontinence pads from landfill.
The project has the potential to create a niche sector worth about $120 million.
The plant, due to open at the mill next year, will sterilise the waste and recover valuable materials for reuse in products ranging from outdoor furniture to paper and cardboard products and pet litter.
Relivit’s managing director Mark Dunn, said the signing of the memorandum of understanding with the paper mill was a significance milestone.
“Not only is this MOU an important milestone in itself, this location will reduce our project cost, complexity and lead times,” he said.
“The Nowra site is a truly unique opportunity. Substantial infrastructure already exists and can be readily adapted for our needs, delivering improved outcomes in the process.
“It also brings us within range of other markets, perhaps ultimately even Melbourne.
“Australia generates enough [of this waste] to fill the MCG in six months.
“We believe at least 95 per cent of what we [collect] will be able to be recycled.
“We keep it out of landfill and the estimate is we at least halve the amount of carbon that is being generated.”
Mr Dunn said the project, once up and running would employ close to 30 people.
The company will spend around $10 million on the project including installing additional equipment into the Shoalhaven mill.
The expanded service area will produce 120,000 tonnes of AHW each year, extending as far north as Newcastle and running down through the Central Coast, greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Southern Illawarra and reaching out to the ACT.
Relivit will need to only secure 20 per cent of this waste to reach operational capacity.
Relivit was established in 2010 in Victoria by managing director, Gareth Williamson, and commercial director, Mark Dunn. It is a public unlisted Australian waste management and recycling provider.
Australian Paper Shoalhaven Mill manager Bruce Borchardt said Relivit’s project is an exciting prospect.
“The company has been working with Relivit since the beginning of the year,” he said.
“Working together, getting to know each other and getting to understand the benefits the project can bring to both parties.
“It is certainly an exciting prospect.
“The memorandum of understanding (MOU) allows the two companies to come together openly to discuss the project.
“It is only early days in discussions, but the MOU allows Relivit to announce it has a potential new home.
“Hopefully, we can come to a commercial arrangement to have Relivit operating on site.”
Mr Borchardt said Relivit would utilise part of the mill’s infrastructure that currently isn’t in use.
“Their project would utilise existing surplus equipment and site infrastructure,” he said.
“It is envisaged the plant will be located in the waste paper plant site.
“The majority of their process would be housed in that location.
“They will be able to use some of the equipment there and install some of their own equipment to suit their purposes as well.
“It is an exciting prospect and I think it is the right time in Australia for their sort of business.
“It is probably just a natural progression for our company.”
Relivit aims to start operations in 2014.