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Ontex partners with startup company Woosh to enable recycling of used disposable diapers in Belgium

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Ontex partners with startup company Woosh to enable recycling of used disposable diapers in Belgium

March 25, 2021 - 04:27
Posted in:
    AALST-EREMBODEGEM, Belgium, March 23, 2021 (Press Release) -
  • Ontex has actively contributed to the creation of Woosh, a startup whose mission is to make diaper recycling a reality.
  • Woosh aims to deliver disposable diapers and collect used diapers from 1,000 nurseries in Belgium by 2024 and expand the service to other countries. Together with other partners, Woosh aims to enable the first diaper recycling site in Belgium.
  • Ontex collaborates with recycling companies to make its diapers more recyclable and is committed to progressively moving to a circular economy business model.

Ontex and startup Woosh today announced their partnership to enable the recycling of used disposable diapers.

“It is our mission to enable diaper recycling on a large scale,” said Jeff Stubbe, co-founder of Woosh. “We are launching a delivery and collection service of Ontex’s Little Big Change diapers for nurseries. We are now starting in Mechelen, Bruges, Ghent, then deploying our services to other Belgian cities, notably Brussels in the coming months. By 2024, we aim to reach 1,000 nurseries in Belgium alone, and expand our service to other European countries.”

Waste and incineration can be avoided by recycling used disposable diapers. This requires cooperation between different partners: from suppliers of materials for diapers, to manufacturers like Ontex, to waste collection and to recycling partners using the suitable technology. “In Belgium today, the separate collection of diaper waste remains limited, which hinders the progress of diaper recycling. Waste companies are not motivated to invest in the recycling because there is not enough separated diaper waste. Due to the lack of recycling facilities, there’s also little incentive to separate diaper waste,” Jeff Stubbe continued.

”As a major player in essential personal hygiene, we at Ontex recognize the need to find alternatives to landfill and incineration. We work with recycling companies to make our diapers easier to recycle, in line with our sustainability strategy to move toward a circular economy business model. We support Woosh’s mission to make large-scale diaper recycling a reality in Belgium and other countries”, said Annick De Poorter, Ontex’s Executive Vice President for Innovation, Sustainability and Quality.

First diaper recycling site in Belgium

The collection of used diapers is the first critical step in setting up the process needed for large-scale diaper recycling. Together with other partners from the waste industry who are willing to invest, Woosh and Ontex aim to enable the first diaper recycling site in Belgium. The diaper waste will be recycled into new raw materials.

Positive step to reducing waste

“This project contributes to the ambitions to make Belgium and the Flanders region a recycling hub at European and world level. In addition to asbestos waste and plastics, diaper waste is a priority for the Flanders region,” said Jeff Stubbe. “The initial reactions of the nurseries are very positive. On April 1 we officially start rolling out this diaper service in the city of Mechelen, Belgium, in close cooperation with the city council and the circular economy department of the city.”

“In a nursery, diaper waste is a daily challenge,” said Fatima Arbaji of Het Zandkasteel nursery in Mechelen. “Approaching diaper waste in an ecological way is certainly not obvious. Waste separation, waste collection, recycling, quality diapers, all through an ecological service, were important elements for us to choose Woosh. We tested the Little Big Change diapers and are happy with the result. It’s a good feeling to help address the environmental challenge related to diaper waste.”

“We are proud to be the first city that accepted Woosh’s collaboration request. As a city council, we believe in circular economy business models, which recycle and reuse raw materials. This is needed to reduce waste and lower CO2-emissions. The nurseries in the Rivierenland region around Mechelen will also use this diaper distribution and collection service,” said a joint statement from city of Mechelen alderwomen Marina De Bie, Greet Geypen and Gabriella De Francesco, who manage the city’s sustainability, economy and family.

About Woosh:

Woosh was founded in January 2021 in the lap of venture builder Thingit by Wouter Vandamme, Jeff Stubbe and Alby Roseveare. Together they want to make diaper recycling possible in Belgium. In addition to the partnership with Ontex, the local governing bodies also play an important role in the construction of this diaper recycling consortium.

Woosh is the result of a collaboration between Ontex and venture builder Thingit, a team of researchers and entrepreneurs who are the architects of this circular project.

Thingit was founded in 2015 by Wouter Vandamme, with the ambition to extract new business from technology. With a multidisciplinary team of researchers, business developers and support functions, they have all the expertise to successfully transform or launch a business. Thingit is strong in tools and in people and is distinguished by its entrepreneurial culture and approach. Thingit is at home in any open innovation environment where there is great uncertainty in terms of technology, product, market, and business model. Both large and small companies from different sectors have already called on Thingit to be ready for the future. Thingit’s ambition is to launch at least one successful new start-up a year. (www.woosh.be)

About Ontex:

Ontex produces and distributes personal hygiene solutions worldwide, including baby diapers. Every year, more than €2 billion of Ontex products are distributed in more than 110 countries, under the brands of customers and retailers or under their own Ontex brands, such as Little Big Change. The transition to the circular economy is part of Ontex’s sustainability strategy. When designing new products, Ontex assumes the design-for-recycling concept, up to and including the packaging. Ontex studies every stage in the life cycle of a product, including collaboration with partners, recycling infrastructure, environmental impact. The Ontex headquarters are located in Aalst, in addition to production sites in Buggenhout, Eeklo and 17 other locations worldwide.

About Little Big Change:

LBC is a diaper subscription service, present in six European countries, including Belgium. The diapers are produced in a CO2 neutral way in Europe. LBC is continuously working to improve the ecological footprint of this diaper service.