A new clean energy plant which is aiming to prevent millions of hygiene products going into landfill has opened in the Black Country.
Waste management company PHS has carried out a multimillion-pound renovation of a site in West Bromwich to open the new recycling plant which will handle feminine hygiene products, nappies and incontinence pads which are disposed of in public and commercial bins.
These products are currently sent to landfill and can take up to 500 years to decompose.
PHS' patented technology is called 'LifeCycle' and the plant is claimed to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Hygiene product waste is one of the largest contributors to UK landfill according to the Environment Agency and the average woman buys more than 11,000 tampons in her lifetime while around three billion disposable nappies are sent to landfill each year.
Businesses and organisations sending hygiene waste products to landfill face increasingly high costs because of the need to hit UK environmental targets to tackle landfill capacity issues.
PHS said the LifeCycle process converted highly absorbent hygiene products into 'refused derived fuel' which was then supplied to the alternative energy market both in the UK and in Europe.
This fuel is typically burned in biomass plants to produce electricity and hot water, either for municipal power systems, the National Grid or individual companies.
Chief executive Justin Tydeman said: "Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue.
"We have spent almost a decade refining the LifeCycle process and we now have a viable option for diverting hygiene waste products away from landfill.
"For the first time, we can all enjoy the benefits that the products bring and know that they are disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.
"By converting hygiene waste products into refused derived fuel instead of sending them to landfill, we can help our customers to achieve their environmental targets.
"Our goal is zero to landfill for our customers' hygiene waste products by the end of 2017."