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Ontex and Woosh join forces for diaper recycling in Belgium

  • Ontex was actively involved in the creation of Woosh, a start-up with the mission to make diaper recycling possible.
  • Woosh wants to deliver disposable diapers and collect used diapers from 1,000 daycare centers in Belgium by 2024, and also roll out this service internationally. Together with other partners, Woosh also wants to make the first diaper recycling installation in Belgium possible.
  • Ontex works with recycling companies to make its diapers more recyclable and is determined to evolve step by step towards a circular business model.

Aalst (Belgium), March 23, 2021 – Ontex (Euronext: ONTEX) and startup Woosh today announce their collaboration to enable the recycling of used disposable diapers.

“Our mission is to make diaper recycling possible at scale,” said Jeff Stubbe, co-founder of Woosh. “We are launching a delivery and collection service of Ontex Little Big Change diapers for daycare centers. We will start in Ghent, Bruges and Mechelen and in the coming months also in Brussels and other Belgian cities. By 2024, we want to reach 1,000 daycare centers in Belgium alone with our service, and expand to other European countries.”

Waste incineration can be avoided by recycling used disposable diapers. This is only possible if different parties work together: from raw material suppliers for diapers, to diaper manufacturers such as Ontex, to waste collection and partners with access to suitable recycling technology. “Today, separate collection of used diapers is very limited in Belgium, which means diaper recycling is not evolving. Waste management companies are not inclined to invest in diaper recycling because there is not enough separated diaper waste available. Because there are not enough recycling options, there is also no incentive to separate diaper waste,” Jeff Stubbe continues.

“As one of the largest players in essential personal hygiene products, Ontex is well aware of the importance of finding alternatives to landfilling and incineration of used diapers. We work with recycling companies to optimize the recyclability of our diapers, all in line with our sustainability strategy and our evolution towards a circular business model. We support Woosh's mission to enable large-scale diaper recycling in Belgium and other countries,” says Annick De Poorter, Executive Vice President Innovation, Sustainability and Quality at Ontex.

The first diaper recycling site in Belgium

The collection of used diapers is the first crucial step in making diaper recycling possible on a large scale. Together with other partners who are willing to invest, Ontex and Woosh want to realize the first diaper recycling site in Belgium. The diaper waste will be recycled into new raw materials.

A positive step towards less waste

“This project aims to contribute to the ambitions to make Belgium and the Flemish region a leading European and world level as a recycling hub. In addition to asbestos waste and plastics, diaper waste is a priority for the Flemish region,” says Jeff Stubbe. “The first reactions from the daycare centers are very positive. On April 1, we will officially start rolling out our diaper service in Mechelen, in close collaboration with the city council and the circular economy cell of the city of Mechelen.”

“In a daycare center, diaper waste is a daily challenge,” says Fatima Arbaji of Het Zandkasteel daycare center in Mechelen, “and approaching diaper waste in an ecological way is certainly not easy. Waste separation, waste collection, recycling, quality diapers, and all this through an ecological service, were important elements for us to choose Woosh. We tested the Little Big Change diapers and are happy with the results. It gives us a good feeling to help reduce the diaper waste mountain in this way.”

“We were the first city in Flanders to respond to Woosh's request for collaboration. A first that we are proud of," aldermen Marina De Bie, Greet Geypen and Gabriella De Francesco noted in a joint statement as aldermen of the City of Mechelen, responsible for sustainability, entrepreneurship and family respectively. “As a city council, we strongly believe in circular business models, in which raw materials are recycled and reused as much as possible. This is necessary to reduce the waste mountain and reduce CO2 emissions. The daycare centers of Zorgbedrijf Rivierenland are also participating in this diaper service.”

About Woosh:

Woosh was founded in January 2021 within Thingit. Together with Wouter Vandamme, Jeff Stubbe and Alby Roseveare want to make diaper recycling possible in Belgium. In addition to the partnership with Ontex, local administrative 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 enterprise. (www.woosh.be)

About Thingit:

Thingit was founded in 2015 by Wouter Vandamme, with the ambition to create new business from technology. With a multidisciplinary team of researchers, business developers and support functions, they have all the expertise in-house to successfully transform or launch businesses. Thingit is strong in tools and people, and distinguishes itself 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 various 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 per year. (www.thingit.be)

About Ontex:

Ontex produces and distributes personal hygiene solutions, including baby diapers, worldwide. More than 2 billion euros worth of Ontex products are distributed annually in more than 110 countries, under customer and retailer brands or under Ontex own brands, such as Little Big Change. The transition to the circular economy is part of Ontex's sustainability strategy. When designing new products, Ontex uses the design-for-recycling concept, right down to the packaging. Ontex studies every phase in the life cycle of a product, including collaboration with partners, recycling infrastructure, and environmental impact. The Ontex head office is located in Aalst, in addition to production facilities in Buggenhout, Eeklo and 17 other locations worldwide. (www.ontex.com)

About Little Big Change:

Little Big Change is a diaper subscription service, present in 6 European countries, including Belgium. The diapers are produced in a CO2 neutral manner in Europe, Little Big Change also continuously works to improve the ecological footprint of this diaper service. (www.Little-big-change.com)

Percontact

Jeff Stubbe

Co-founder Woosh

+32 474 60 27 13

Jeff@woosh.be

Maarten Verbanck

External communications manager Ontex

+32 492 72 42 67

maarten.verbanck@ontexglobal.com

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