From People care to Planet care

Closing the loop for Absorbent Hygiene Products waste

60 months

10,000 tons/year of AHP waste upcycled

13 consortium partners

7 countries involved

Modern Absorbent Hygiene Products (baby diapers, adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products) improve quality of life, provide great protection, and can support the skin health of millions of people. Made of high quality nonwoven fabrics, they provide help prevent from leakage, and contribute to the comfort and convenience of good hygiene on a daily basis

The Challenge

Absorbent Hygiene Products (AHPs) have become essential everyday products to society and their use has increased substantially. As with every consumer product, also AHP’s end up in solid waste after their use. Today, they represent approx. 2-4% of the total Municipal Solid waste and it’s considered a non-recyclable fraction, which is usually incinerated or landfilled. Over the past 20 years there has been great progress by AHPs manufacturers to reduce the environmental impact of AHPs, for example, the average weight of baby diapers was reduced by around 50%. However, to meet society’s needs for sustainable consumption there is further innovation required: Fater has developed and patented an innovative recycling solution for post-consumer AHP waste creating secondary raw materials for higher value applications. This is already demonstrated through an industrial scale unit based in Lovadina di Spresiano (Treviso – Italy).

What is Embraced?

Embraced is an EU funded project, involving 13 partners partners from businesses, academia, and research institutions. It is aimed at closing the loop for AHP waste, reducing greenhouse gases emission and increasing sustainability in Europe. The objective of the project is the establishment of a first-of-its-kind demonstration plant of an integrated biorefinery in Amsterdam, based on the valorization of the cellulosic fraction of post-consumer AHP waste towards the production of bio-based building blocks, polymers and fertilizers. Embraced will operate valorizing all the fractions from the process, to obtain marketable end-products fully competitive in terms of cost, quality and sustainability. Importantly, the project will follow a circular economy approach, closing the cycle of raw materials and minimizing the use of primary resources, through the establishment of virtuous models of cooperation among all the involved stakeholders.

Main Project Objectives


Recovery of 3 high purify fractions: cellulose, plastic fraction and Super Absorbent Polymer fraction (SAP).
Enhaced quality of cellulose by reducing the SAP content from 50% to 5%.

Conversion of AHP waste cellulose into building blocks and polymers:

Demonstration of an innovative pretreatment technology for the obtaining of fermentable sugars from AHP waste cellulose to be converted through first of its kind biotech process into biobased building blocks of industrial interest.
Demonstration of conversion of syngas from AHP waste cellulose into biodegradable Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)
Demonstration of biobased and biodegradable polyesters formulation suitable for packaging applications

Validation into final products

Recycled plastic fraction into plastic bins and caps, deactivated cells from PHB fermentation into organic fertilizers, PHB into medical devices, biobased polyesters into films for non-food packaging applications, recycled SAP into innovative absorbent underpads

Recovery of high value molecules & production of bio-energy

Design of a system for recovery of phosphate, ammonium, potassium and urea contained in wastewater from AHP pretreatment process
Valorisation of by-products from fermentation into bio-energy production

From AHP waste to high value products


This project has received funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 745746

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