A road surface made of nappies: Wales tests a sustainable material

In a pilot project in Wales, a motorway has been given what is probably the most unusual road surface ever: used diapers. This makes road construction more sustainable and reduces waste.

Red wine, salt, or even solar cells: When it comes to exotic road surfaces, the world has seen a lot. But what has now paved the way for a motorway in Wales may be the strangest road surface ever.

There is now a “diaper highway” here. Yes, you read that correctly, diapers. Used diapers to be precise.

New fibers made from old diapers

What seems unusual is an attempt to make road construction more sustainable while at the same time reducing waste. Because the nappies used for the diaper highway are remanufactured.

He was succeeded by Nappike Company of Ammanford. As the company name suggests, Nappike specializes in diaper recycling. In a specially developed process, new fibers are made from diaper fibers that can be used in building materials such as boards or fibreboard. Or just for the road surface.

The company came up with the idea only through the Welsh government, Says Rob Boyer, Director of Nappikes to BBC. The country wants to recycle 70 percent of its waste by 2025. By 2050, Wales should have one “Zero Waste Nation” He is. Accordingly, the government is promoting innovative recycling projects.

Diapers are a good place to start. About 140 million diapers end up in the trash each year in Wales. They are in the UK 400,000 tons of diaper waste annually. The material takes about 500 years to decompose.

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sustainable road surface

But the diaper highway can’t just help reduce waste. It also makes road construction more sustainable.

107,000 used diapers were used for the pilot project on an approximately two kilometer section of the A487 motorway between Cardigan and Aberystwyth. Of this, a total of 4.3 tons of fiber was produced, which was added to the asphalt binder bitumen.

The process saves carbon dioxide compared to conventional asphalt construction. In addition, emissions from transportation can also be saved. Because the fibers required for construction usually come from the outside. However, on the Wales Diaper Highway, only locally grown fibers were used in production.

Nappiciks also claims that the diaper-built road surface lasts twice as long. All this not only reduces emissions and waste, but also saves costs. And if you’re worried about smelly streets: Presumably, the diaper highway only smells like the street.

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