A Christchurch nappy composting company will refund money to parents who have paid a fee to use the company’s collection bins.
Karen Ashby, chief executive of EnviroComp, made the decision after customers became unhappy when they learned nappies were going direct to landfill.
The landfill dumping was a temporary arrangement until a new system was up and running next year, she said.
“It’s such an emotional waste stream,” Ashby said.
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Ashby said she had been as transparent as possible about the transition but many customers were unhappy about the dumping and had made their feelings known on social media.
As a result the service involving payment bags and an access card for bin collection of nappies was being discontinued and refunds will be available for any unused bags purchased.
The rates for bags varied depending on the number purchased but the lowest cost was $41 for six bags and an access card for the bins.
People didn’t feel as emotional or guilty about buying vegetables in a plastic wrapping or car tyres which end up in landfills, Ashby said.
Parents also had the choice of using cloth nappies if they were unhappy about the suspension of the scheme, she said.
One mother expressed disappointment on the company’s Facebook page, saying she had many bags that were unlikely to be useful because her daughter would be toilet trained by the time Ashby’s new recycling venture was up an running in 2018.
Ashby said the transition wasn’t a problem for her commercial clients such as retirement homes or child care centres but was clearly an issue for many individual customers.
She was in the process of joining with new business partner Eneform to exploit pyrolysis technology which would be capable of extracting fuel from a range of waste products including tyres.
The technology has been commercialised in conjunction with Southern Cross Engineering and other specialists.
Plans are already advanced to create plants in Canterbury and Waikato and the money for the project is being raised in conjunction with NZ Development Trust.
The Envirocomp nappy composting business would be transferred to a new company called Eneform and the nappy waste recycled under the new technology, when the first new plant opens in early 2018, Ashby said.
Eneform principal Andrew Simcock said the nappy waste was a valuable addition to the plastics and tyres that would be treated by the planned plants.
A pilot plant was being set up in Waikato and a bigger one would be established in Canterbury.