A multi-million pound investment has created a recycling site in the Black Country.
The site in West Bromwich will be the first in the UK able to handle feminine hygiene products.
Currently hundreds of millions of tampons, pads and nappies go for landfill, where it is estimated they will take up to 500 years to decompose.
But waste management company PHS Group has come up with a cost-effective way of recycling these hygiene products on an industrial scale.
The centre to handle the waste is based at Kelvin Way, in West Bromwich, to take advantage of the area's transport links.
Just four staff will be able to process up to 45,000 tonnes of waste a year when the plant hits full capacity.
Called LifeCycle, the process combines mechanical separation with chemical treatment and converts the highly absorbent hygiene products into Refused Derived Fuel (RDF), which is then supplied to the alternative energy market both in the UK and in Europe.
RDF is typically burned in biomass plants to produce electricity and hot water either for municipal power systems, the National Grid or individual companies.
Justin Tydeman, chief executive of PHS Group, said: “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue.
"We have spent almost a decade refining the LifeCycle process and we now have a viable option for diverting hygiene waste products away from landfill.
"For the first time, we can all enjoy the benefits that the products bring and know that they are disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.”
He added: “Our hygiene waste customers are genuinely concerned that they minimise their impact on the environment.
"By converting hygiene waste products into RDF instead of sending them to landfill, we can help them to achieve their environmental targets.
"Our goal is zero to landfill for our customers’ hygiene waste products by the end of 2017.”
The plant is currently processing 15 per cent of the total amount of hygiene waste collected from its customers through LifeCycle. That will rise to 70 per cent in the next six months and PHS is aiming for zero waste to landfill by the end of 2017.
Currently the Kevlin Way site is taking waste from PHS operations in Smethwick, West Bromwich, Stoke, Newark, Buckley, Bolton and Bristol.
In the next three months the company plans to include Hayes, Edmonton and Camberwell with Cardiff, South Kirkby, Peterlee and Blackridge coming on board in the next six months.
PHS is one of the UK’s leading hygiene and waste management company with more than 90,000 customers across 300,000 locations throughout the UK and Ireland.Subscribe to our Newsletter