MILLIONS of dirty nappies thrown away each year could be used to produce energy, in a new project being developed by a French firm.
Suez Environnement, which operates water treatment plants, is carrying out research to look at nappies' potential for recycling and making electricity.
The "Happy Nappy" project has received funding from the government's energy-saving body Ademe.
The first stage of the process is to crush the used nappies to separate and isolate the various constituent materials.
The plastic - about 20% of the nappy - is then recycled and the other organic matter is mixed and fermented with sludge from wastewater from treatment plants, creating biogas.
Project director Laurent Galtier told TF1 News: "The average baby gets through 6,000 nappies by the time they are two years old. Nationally this represents about a million tonnes of used nappies each year that are thrown away. There is currently no solution for recycling these.
"If all goes well, our pilot should be finished by the end of the year. If the results are good we will carry out further simulations to assess the project's feasibility."