In a world first, Wales is trialling the prospect of using discarded nappies to resurface roads, cutting down waste and providing a secondary purpose for a product that is otherwise considered a single-use plastic.
The coastal A487, connecting Haverfordwest and Bangor, was the selected thoroughfare to trial the innovation, with a stretch running between Aberystwyth and Cardigan already having been replaced with the nappy formula.
Funded by the Welsh Government, the project is led by Ammanford-based NappiCycle, a company dedicated to solving the waste issue associated with disposable, single-use nappies. For this project, 4.3 tonnes of used nappies were required. Following a (thorough!) wash, the plastic and cellulose fibres from the nappies were separated then added to aggregate to create the new road surface.
Developers of the project believe using the nappy fibres means the road surface could last twice as long as roads resurfaced with conventional materials, and, if the pilot scheme proves a success, the initiative could be rolled out on roads across Wales in the future.
Alongside this latest resurfacing project, the company turns used nappies – an estimated 143 million of which are thrown away in Wales each year – into everything from construction materials to coasters.
Speaking about the new road project, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said, “Welsh Government is committed to supporting our businesses to design and develop innovative solutions to global problems, which helps boost our economy and protect our society.”
“I’m delighted our Innovation Team have been able to play a pioneering role in taking this project forward. Once again, Wales is demonstrating it is a leading player in applying research and development to Circular Economy solutions,” he added.
Wales is currently one of the top three countries in the world when it comes to recycling household waste, with the Welsh Government aiming to make Wales a ‘zero waste nation’ by 2050.
And just in case you’re wondering, the road doesn’t have any unusual scent to it…