Did you know that by the time the average child is potty trained and can make the joyous switch from diapers to underwear, he or she will have undergone anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 diaper changes? For many families, this means that thousands of disposable sacks of (ahem) organic material are simply wrapped and sent to the landfill where they begin a long and smelly existence underground.
According to industry data from Franklin Associates and the American Petroleum Institute, 3.5 billion gallons of oil as well as 250,000 trees are used to produce the 18 billion throwaway diapers used in the US each year. Wood is pulped (using an enormous amount of water) and then commonly bleached white with chlorine, a process that produces dioxin, one of the most toxic substances ever made by humans.
Once in the landfill, diaper waste has the potential to pollute local groundwater and the diaper itself has little chance of ever decomposing. When your baby’s great, great, great, great grandchildren come into the world, those diapers will still be lying in the landfill (EcoCycle).
We’ve found creative uses for animal fecal matter, like recycled paper or valuable fertilizer for lawns and gardens, so why can’t we find a more productive way to keep all this organic waste from spending an eternity underground?
These companies are teaming up to create Britain’s very first disposable diaper plant which will get 100 percent of its power from the organic materials in disposable diapers. But, according to CleanTechnica, only 2 percent of a used disposable diaper is comprised of organic waste, so what happens to the other 98 percent?
It will be “dried, sterilized, and separated into reusable paper pulp and plastic. The end use of those materials has not yet been announced but based on Knowaste’s past experience, roof tiles, shoe insoles, wallpaper, plastic ‘wood,’ and industrial thickeners are likely candidates.”
When you think about this new recycling idea in light of the sheer volume of diapers used in most countries every year, the amount of waste that could be diverted from the landfill and used for a productive purpose becomes encouraging and inspiring. If the companies’ plans for making a profit with this concept hold true, we could see similar diaper recycling facilities popping up all over the world.
Image Credit: webecoist.com