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Recycled nappies used to resurface a major Welsh road

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The Welsh Government has trialled using recycled nappies to resurface a stretch of road on the A487 between Cardigan and Aberystwyth.

Fibres from 4.3 tonnes of used nappies have replaced materials used to make asphalt that are normally shipped in from Europe and beyond.

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The other ingredient- aggregate- was sourced within a 45 mile radius, sustaining local jobs and cutting carbon by shortening the supply chain.

Nappies and other absorbent hygiene products are currently or have plans to be collected in 15 out of 22 local authorities in Wales. Still, an estimated 143 million nappies are thrown away in Wales each year.

Considered a single-use plastic, they could take hundreds of years to degrade in landfill. Though the plastic lining can be recycled easily, the fibres in the absorbing layer have previously proven a challenge.

To address this, the Welsh Government through its SMART innovation programme funded Ammanford-based NappiCycle to clean used nappies and separate the plastic and cellulose fibres for re-use. It is working with Welsh business to explore other market uses for the fibres.

The road is just one of many innovations the Welsh Government is spearheading in its aim to move to a circular economy- where waste is turned into a resource and kept in use for as long as possible.

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If the trial – which will undergo rigorous environmental assessments to scrutinise breakdown of the material over time- proves successful, the initiative could be scaled up – reducing waste, tackling climate change and creating green jobs in the process.

The asphalt made with recycled nappy fibres is even more durable than standard asphalt, and has a lower carbon footprint (Image: Pura)

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “The road to zero waste requires innovation, collaboration and bold action. We have elevated ourselves from one of the world’s worst recyclers to one of the best since devolution began. I have no doubt that with a Team Wales effort we can achieve world number one recycler, whilst ensuring no more rubbish is sent to landfill after 2025 and none sent to energy incinerators after 2050.”

Rob Poyer from Ammanford-based NappiCycle developed the process in 2009, where used nappies are cleaned, and plastics and cellulose fibres separated for re-use.

Baby care brand Pura teamed up with NappiCycle in 2020.

Pura CEO Guy Fennell said: “Despite extensive research, the technology for the perfect eco-friendly disposable nappy unfortunately doesn’t exist yet. As we seek that solution, we are determined to drive change and minimise the damage nappies are having on the planet.

“That’s why it was crucial that we partner with NappiCycle and make nappy recycling a reality for all UK parents.

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“The road resurfacing is just one fantastic example of how recycled nappies – that would have otherwise ended up in landfill – can be put to really good use.”

The A487 between Cardigan and Aberystwyth being resurfaced with the asphalt made with recycled nappy fibres (Image: Pura)

Rob Poyer, NappiCycle founder, added: “This type of road surface material has huge potential for producing more sustainable roadways with a lower carbon impact.

“With this trial we hope to demonstrate that waste nappies could be widely adopted in our roads, not just here in Wales, but right around the UK.”

The recovered cellulose from nappies can also be used to make notice boards, flooring and insulation.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “The Welsh Government is committed to supporting our businesses to design and develop innovative solutions to global problems, which helps boost our economy and protect our society.

“I’m delighted our Innovation Team have been able to play a pioneering role in taking this project forward. Once again, Wales is demonstrating it is a leading player in applying R&D to Circular Economy solutions.”

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(Lead image: Pura)

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Environment

Cadle Heath is alive with the sound of critters

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From endangered bats to moths, beetles and unusual critters, a Swansea suburb is giving locals an opportunity to discover exactly what’s living on their doorstep.

The Cadle Heath BioBlitz event funded by the Swansea Nature Partnership on Saturday, May 14, is a day packed with scavenger hunts, guided walks, opportunities to learn about the wildflowers, bugs birds, reptiles and mammals and help to gather important nature data by recording the unusual species living in this urban heath.

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This nature reserve is one of Swansea’s best kept secrets and stretches from behind Swansea Community Farm on Carmarthen Road, to popular shopping-destination, Pontarddulais Road Retail Park.

The event, which is organised by Swansea Community Farm, South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre and Penderi Green Regeneration project, will take place between 10am and 3pm at the farm. Followed by a bat walk at 8.30pm, giving people the chance to listen for the elusive, red-listed, Lesser Horseshoe Bat in its natural habitat.

Kate McCabe from Pobl, leading on the Penderi Green Regeneration Project, said: “This is an exciting event for us. Cadle Heath is one of the best examples of urban heathland in the country and we are proud to have such a rich, exciting space for nature in the heart of Swansea’s Penderi region. The fact that the heath is home to a red-listed bat species is something we should be really proud of and something we should protect and celebrate.”

“Cadle is in such a highly populated part of Swansea that it is often overlooked, and people don’t often realise the hidden haven that exists for local wildlife. This family-friendly event will really bring the area to life, giving people a unique opportunity to really explore the area with the guidance of passionate scientists and nature experts.”

Katharine Aylett, from Swansea Community Farm, said: “We are proud to be hosting such an important and exciting event for the area, and to be partners of Pobl’s Penderi Green Regeneration Project. At Swansea Community Farm, we know the positive effect activities like this have on the community and local wildlife; it’s about raising awareness of the natural world and bringing people together, outdoors. 

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“The Penderi Green Regeneration Project itself, is vital to the area and is already having a clear impact on this part of Swansea. We’re looking forward to working with them on future events and initiatives.”

The Penderi Green Regeneration Project is an initiative to support local people in their desire to improve green spaces in their area which will help boost health and wellbeing. Through a series of physical and educational opportunities, the initiative will bring the wider neighbourhood together to regenerate green spaces in the Penderi area of Swansea.

Funded by UK Government, under the Community Renewal Fund (CRF), Pobl Group is able to deliver the Project with the help of key partners, Swansea Environment Centre, Room To Grow and the Conservation Team at Swansea Council.

For more information on the free event, visit: www.swanseacommunityfarm.org.uk

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Environment

First Minister celebrates 10 years of the Wales Coast Path

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The First Minister will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Wales Coast Path with a visit to meet volunteers and walkers.

A year long programme of events and activities celebrating the Wales Coast Path will take place throughout 2022, including walking festivals, virtual challenges and art installations.

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Since its opening in 2012, the Wales Coast Path has established itself as a beacon of our nation’s natural beauty.

The 870 mile path guides walkers along Wales’ picturesque coastline, weaving its way past a hundred beaches and sixteen castles.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The coastal path is one of the crowning glories of Wales and one of the proudest achievements of devolution.

“I would like to thank all those involved in the management of the path. Particularly the staff and volunteers, who are out in all weathers, working hard to maintain the path to such high standards.

“If I had to choose my favourite stretch of the path, the portion between Pendine and Amroth would be a candidate: starting in my own home county of Carmarthenshire, and ending in Pembrokeshire. It may not be the most well-known part of the path, but it offers huge variety: some challenging climbs, outstanding variety of flowers, secret coves and plenty of historical interest”.

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The Welsh Government will build on the successes of the first ten years so that more people are able to enjoy the path, from more backgrounds, more easily, and with more benefits for local communities, businesses and the environment.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS, asked Huw Irranca-Davies, MS for Ogmore to undertake a review of the Wales Coast Path.

A small group, drawn from academia and the public, private and voluntary sectors was established to undertake the review.

The Group reflected on the key achievements over the last decade and identified how to maximise opportunities for the future.

Their report has been published on the Welsh Government website today (11 May).

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The review recognises the potential value and challenges of the Wales Coast Path. It contains 19 recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider when developing its future strategic approach to the path.

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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