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Recycling cellulose-rich waste

The UK alone produces over 3 billion soiled Absorbent Hygiene Products (AHPs) such as nappies and adult incontinence pads (Mintel 2019; NHS 2018; WRAP 2015). There is a need to improve on current disposal of such AHPs from medical and care home sources as well as household waste collections. This industry-academia collaboration in the form of a three-year Innovate UK-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project hopes to use the principle of AHP material re-assignment and re-valuation to drive sustainable disposal of waste and to inform future product design to facilitate better recycling.

West African Bio-economies: Opportunities & Challenges (Part 1)

What would a sustainable African bio-economy look like? Some of the pathways considered for bio-economy development in developed countries involve overhauling already-established technologies. Does this suggest that developing countries without similar existing technologies are poised to experience the benefit of forethought that comes from learning from the mistakes of more developed countries? For brevity, the next set of blog posts will focus on the bio-economy trends and possibilities in some West African countries.

Waste treatment via Hydrothermal Carbonisation

There is growing interest in Hydrothermal Carbonisation (HTC), a process that is capable of converting biomass (plant- and animal-based matter) into carbon-rich substances in the presence of water. This means that high moisture content feedstocks can be processed without the need for pre-drying, which can requires large amounts of energy. So think vegetable wastes, agricultural residues, animal litter and sewage into value-added products like catalysts, biofuels, soil enhancers, and environmental remediation products. A video of this process  can be found here
In 2011, HTC was also one of the treatment processes considered for the treatment of waste from modern, lower-flush toilets at Loughborough university, as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's "Reinventing the Toilet Challenge".
Can this process be scaled up to industrial level, particularly in developing countries which need sustainable and affordable waste management strategies? That's what I'…

City waste disposal/treatment

As municipal solid waste quantities and treatment costs increase, cities in some developing countries have formed collaborations with various stakeholders to deliver bespoke waste management services.

A lot of thought goes into executing a city’s waste disposal and treatment systems, with cost understandably being a crucial factor. For instance, cost determines manpower, number/type of trucks to use, timing and frequency of collection, location of treatment facilities, and many other considerations that have been elaborated on here. The nature of the city also adds a level of complexity to the waste collection/treatment equation. In an earlier post, waste collection in the Northern English city of Leeds was compared to that of the North-Central Nigerian city of Jos. The well-developed road networks in the Leeds city example allow for easier bulk residential waste collection. Conversely, waste collection in densely populated residential areas with small in-roads as found in many Nigeri…

Waste Collection: 'A Tale of Two Cities'

Waste management systems in many developing countries has much room for improvement. Some positive changes are outlined in the second section of this article.

Somewhere in Europe...
It’s Saturday, 8.45am in a quiet residential area of Leeds, UK. The distinct beep-beep-beep of a garbage collection truck is within earshot. In just a few more minutes, three experienced collectors will haul grey wheelie bins filled with rubbish into this truck. For efficient weekly rubbish collection, all the collectors ask of residents is to make sure they wheel out their grey bins to the kerbside before the truck arrives. All over-18 year old residents of the neighbourhood, with the exception of full-time students, pay for this service. Payments are made to the local city council government as council tax, property fees which also provide funding for other city sanitation as well as recreational services. For residents, the waste disposal cycle is now complete: from 'Household Bin' to 'Large…