Such waste is a major cause of sewer clogging and often spills onto beaches and coastlines, damaging the environment and endangering wildlife.
Currently, wastewater treatment plants screen out non-biodegradable solids, press them into large blocks, and send them to a landfill.
Now the groundbreaking system will see the material collected, roasted at high temperatures, and turned into a charcoal substance that could improve the way wastewater is treated and help deal with climate change.
Dog walkers have been called on to pick up trash to clean up the countryside and protect wildlife…
The project is the brainchild of capital-based start-up Carbogenics, a subsidiary of the University of Edinburgh, which is starting a year-long trial of the method at the Scottish Water Wastewater Development Center in Bo’ness.
It involves a waste heating process known as pyrolysis to create a substance called biochar.
The biochar will then be added back to the wastewater treatment process to absorb pollutants and stimulate the micro-organisms to treat the water effectively.
The hope is that by preventing screenings from ending up in landfill and adding biochar to boost biological wastewater treatment, wastewater treatment plants will use less energy to operate and thus be able to reduce their carbon footprint.
The innovative scheme was launched thanks to a £100,000 Smart:Scotland grant from Scottish Enterprise and if successful, the technology could be rolled out worldwide.
Ed Craig, chief executive of Carbogenics, said: “We believe that the problem of non-degradable materials entering the wastewater system has a more sustainable solution.
“By helping to prevent this waste from ending up in landfill, we are helping Scotland showcase a true environmental reputation.
“If this test with Scottish Water is successful, the application of this solution to the wastewater industry – not just in the UK, but across Europe – could be huge.”
Tamsin Kennedy, Head of the Circular Economy at Scottish Water, said: “We believe biochar research has the potential to expand low-carbon and circular wastewater treatment options and support a prosperous Scotland.”