It is a now or never. The latest IPCC report is clear on the urgency of the actions needed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The
From diapers that turn into compost, to diapers made from recycled cardboard, there are more and more projects being born to prevent this waste from simply ending up in landfills.
It is estimated that a baby uses about 5,000 diapers until the age of 3, the moment they generally ditch the diapers. Once discarded, diapers contribute 10% of household waste.
For those who are concerned about the environmental impact of having a baby, there are options. Reusable diapers are an option and, by the calculations already made, the most viable (especially if other factors in their use are maximized, such as the number of babies using them, the machine and cycles in which they are washed, etc.). However, there are other initiatives that work to ensure that disposable diapers – the ones that are still used by the majority – do not simply end up in the trash.
Diapers that turn into compost
In Germany, about 500,000 tons of disposable diapers are incinerated every year, producing waste that fills 12,000 trucks.
But Ayumi Matsuzaka aims to put an end to this problem with her Berlin-based startup Dycle. Matsuzaka has developed diapers that turn into a nutrient-enriched black soil for growing fruit trees.
Dycle, which stands for “Diaper Cycle,” covers the processes of production, use, and recycling of baby diapers.
The diapers, produced 100% with organic material, are collected and delivered for composting. Through the process of its composting, a type of soil develops that is particularly fertile for fruit trees, which can be used both for the production and sale of fruit and for baby food.
Dycle experts estimate that a year’s supply of diapers can result in a production of 1 ton of soil.
In addition to helping reduce waste and increase the production of sustainable diapers, Dycle also encourages the formation of urban communities. A community of about 100 families from similar neighborhoods that meets regularly at a specific distribution point, planting trees and bonding with each other.
Also in Australia, where 300,000 new babies are born each year, and about 95% of them use disposable diapers, a project is being born that wants to do something more with this type of waste.
Kimberly-Clark, maker of Huggies diapers, has announced its new diaper recycling program, which uses anaerobic digestion to turn the organic materials from used Huggies diapers into a nutrient-rich compost, while the plastic components are separated and put to another type of product. In addition, the anaerobic digestion process creates bioenergy that can be used to power the plant’s own composting facility.
Biodegradable diapers made from recycled cardboard.
In Finland, a more environmentally friendly method of producing diapers is already being studied. These diapers are made from recycled cardboard, which has several advantages: they are biodegradable; their price can be more competitive compared to regular plastic diapers (about 20% cheaper); and their raw material can be used in the production of hygiene products and even in construction.
The use of this material is not exactly new, the difference is in the way it is produced. At the VTT Technical Research Center in Espoo, Finland, a less environmentally aggressive method has been developed, such as reducing the water used in the process and extracting the cellulose tissue from the recycled cardboard, thus saving our forests a little more.
Since they take about 500 years to break down into microplastics, which will never be absorbed by nature, and are produced in unsustainable ways, conventional disposable diapers are harmful to the environment from their production to their disposal. Thus, new projects that encourage the use of more environmentally friendly diapers are always welcome, since this change allows for the saving of water in their manufacture, the reduction of waste, and the reuse of many materials that would otherwise be wasted.
Liliana is from Lisbon with roots in Lamego and wherever she goes. She always had a greater love for Nature, and that's why she considers it's so important to preserve it. That's where her urgency for sustainability comes from. She is willing to share everything she's learned over the years with as many people as possible.
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