Establishing a Multi-purpose Biorefinery for the Recycling of the organic content of AHP waste in a Circular Economy Domain


Absorbent Hygiene Products (AHP) waste, which includes post-consumers nappies, adult incontinence products, feminine hygiene items, wipes, etc. are currently considered a non-recyclable fraction of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), with 8,500,000 tons of such waste incinerated or landfilled in Europe each year.

The EMBRACED project will demonstrate, in a relevant industrial environment, a replicable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable model of integrated biorefinery based on the valorisation of the cellulosic fraction of Post-Consumer AHP waste in producing bio-based building blocks, polymers, and fertilizers. The biorefinery will use a circular economy approach, closing the cycle of raw materials and minimising the use of primary resources.


  • Demonstrate a replicable logistic scheme and service which will enable the collection of 10,000 tons/year of separated AHP waste
  • Demonstrate the recovery of three separate high purity fractions from AHP waste suitable for subsequent added value valorisation
  • Demonstrate i) a low cost, efficient one-step process for obtaining 2G fermentable sugars from high purity AHP waste cellulose; ii) processes for the conversion of fermentable sugars obtained by the AHP waste cellulose fraction into bio-based building blocks and polyesters.
    Validate the obtained bio-based polyesters into the formulation of biodegradable films for non-food packaging and into the formulation of materials for medical applications
  • Valorize all by-products through the production of final applications (i.e. organic fertilizers, plastic bins and caps, absorbent underpads) 
  • Demonstrate the active involvement of the local community in order to increase the separate collection and recycling of AHP waste
  • Reduce the environmental impacts related to the AHP’s end of life and to the polyesters’ production
  • Pave the ground towards the market uptake of the developed products and processes though the development of standardization measures
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of a significant added value valorization of organic waste compared to the biogas or compost production
  • Develop sustainable bio-based materials
  • Deliver high quality products that can be easily commercialised in accordance with EU standards concerning the biodegradability and compostability.
  • Potential creation of new 153 skilled jobs in the whole value chain (100 new jobs in the logistic sector, 8 new jobs in the waste management sector, 10 new jobs for the designed and realization of the new AHP waste pretreatment plant, 35 new jobs in the final products development)

Project achievements & milestones

Creating sustainable value from used nappies
27 November 2019
Disposable nappies, or diapers, are a hygienic time-saver - but one with an environmental impact. The BBI JU EMBRACED project has developed collection and recycling systems that turn used nappies and similar products into profitable new materials for more sustainable use. Read more

How BBI JU is helping businesses to repurpose waste to drive new circular economic models
17 October 2019
As a conversation piece, the circular economy is on everyone’s lips. It’s not just a buzzword. With the global population predicted to approach 9 billion people by 2030, we are using more resources than the planet can provide. Our future depends on reusing what we have in a sustainable way. The EMBRACED project is aimed at establishing an integrated biorefinery in Amsterdam to recover the cellulosic fraction of post-consumer absorbent hygiene products (AHP) waste and produce bio-based and biodegradable products. Read more

Sustainable nappies for eco-friendly generations
15 July 2019
EU statistics report that some seven million babies in Europe use up to 36 million disposable nappies in only one day. BBI JU POLYBIOSKIN and EMBRACED projects are sketching out different solutions to reduce the pollution from plastics in diapers. Read more

Scientists want to use dirty nappies as a source of raw materials
08 October 2018
The project's recycling plant is turning thousands of soiled nappies, originally destined to clog Italian landfill sites or incinerators, into streams of high quality raw materials, in a new process that it is hoped will be replicated around Europe. Read more

Moving Europe’s mountain of nappies from landfill to helping create useful bio-based products
15 January 2018
Our EMBRACED project is working on establishing a multi-purpose biorefinery for the recycling of the organic content contained within absorbent hygiene products (nappies, wipes, etc). ‘Only partnerships, like those brought together for EMBRACED can help us achieve the goals that we all have for the bioeconomy,’ says project coordinator Marcello Somma. Read more