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) a process for converting syngas from AHP waste cellulose into biodegradable polyesters; iii) a process for the conversion of sugars obtained by AHP waste cellulose fraction into biobased building blocks and polyesters.
    Validate the obtained biobased 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
Expected impacts: 
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of a significant added value valorization of organic waste compared to the biogas or compost production
  • Develop sustainable biobased 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

Sustainable nappies for eco-friendly generations
15 July 2019
Biodegradable nappies and sanitary pads could reduce the burden that fossil-based plastic litter puts on nature. The prototypes currently developed are meant to be of higher quality, but still, they are more expensive than the similar conventional products on the market. The BBI JU POLYBIOSKIN and EMBRACED projects are working on making nappies more sustainable. 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