Recycling Blog - Nappy Nastiness

This week’s contamination culprit is a bit of a stinky affair that fills our recycling operatives hearts with dread faster than a baby fills its Huggies after eating solids for the first time - yes, it’s the disposable nappy!

They’re unpleasant to handle, a huge health hazard AND can ruin entire bales of recycling, yet nappies are something our recycling operatives see on an almost daily basis in people’s kerb side recycling collections.

In just three hours this morning operatives at the MRF pulled approximately 75 used nappies from the newly delivered loads of mixed plastics. As well as being put in with Mixed Plastics, nappies also often sneak into the Paper Recycling line when the optical sorters at the MRF accidently identify them as paper and send them to the paper lines. You can imagine what happens then!

If you pro-rata the number of nappies found in this morning’s recycling over the Mixed Plastics and Mixed Paper lines for a 10 hour shift, operatives could be removing up to 500 smelly used nappies per day!

Although nappy makers are looking into ways to make disposable nappies easily recyclable and the recycling industry is working hard on ways to bring the service to households, it is not available yet.

So what can you do with your baby’s poopey Pampers? There’s a few options:

  • Put them in the rubbish bin. We all want to do our bit to help the environment, but until there is an easy service to recycle disposable nappies in your household collection then they have to go in the bin. The moment the service is available we will be the first to let you know!
  • Try a more environmentally friendly alternative. Cloth nappies (often know as ‘real nappies’) are reusable and a switch not only helps protect the environment, but could save you money in the long run.
  • More information on cloth nappies can be found at Plymouth Nappy Library:

Please don’t put your nappies in recycling. They can contaminate otherwise good bales of recycling and risk making our staff unwell.

For a detailed guide on what household waste and recycling should go in which bin, head to: