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I’ve long felt that many of this planet’s troubles have been less about climate change and more about the damage our unnecessary consumption is causing. Despite Covid, the global population is still growing and is expected to reach eight billion next year. It’s imperative that we in the developed world tackle our desire to buy things we don’t need. This includes food. It’s not just the shameful amount of food wasted when others are starving, either, but the extra sewage we create thanks to our greed, along with the extra toilet tissue, soap and water used during our bathroom visits. If you think about it, it’s a little scary, isn’t it? Where’s it all going to go and how do we stop wasting water?
As a mother of twins, I struggled 34 years ago with washable nappies and while I’m happy that there are now easier-to-use and more environmentally-acceptable alternatives to the popular disposables, they’re too expensive for many. I’m watching with interest then, how a newly resurfaced 1.4-mile stretch of the A487 between Cardigan and Aberystwyth, in Wales, holds up. Why? It’s been resurfaced with more than 107,000 used nappies in an attempt to reduce landfill waste! Some 4.3 tonnes of recovered nappy fibre has been added to the bitumen used to glue together the asphalt surfacing and it’s even said to make the end result more durable. If the scheme – apparently the first of its kind in the UK – is a success, we may see it extended throughout Wales and possibly to the rest of the UK and beyond. While the joint venture between the Welsh Government, nappy recycling expert NappiCycle and babycare business Pura, has been poo-pooed by some who say that the nappies contain hydrocarbons and will leak microplastics and soil into the waterways, I wonder whether this is a better option than committing them to landfill. In the UK alone, this amounts to some three billion nappies and 400,000 tonnes of nappy waste annually. Imagine this worldwide! With the less environmentally-friendly versions taking up to 500 years to break down, we certainly need to find something to do with them and the process being used in Wales means nothing is sent to landfill.
Could this herald the end of the dreaded potholes decimating so many of our road surfaces, I wonder? If all it’s going to take is a few nappies to stop my house shaking when lorries trundle into the potholes, I’m going to be asking why someone didn’t try out this scheme years ago!
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24th February 2022