It’s hardly a dirty secret, but many parents are unaware that used, disposable diapers can be recycled. In South Wales, UK, NappiCycle is blazing a trail with its complete diaper recycling scheme, transforming used diapers into altogether more useful items. Unfortunately, their service is only available in Wales at present, but by partnering with NappiCycle, Pura is hoping to change all that...
The trouble with diapers
The UK throws away around 3 billion disposable diapers annually, and 400,000 tonnes of disposable diaper waste ends up in landfill each year.
Many disposables contain absorbent polymers, polypropylene, adhesives, elastics and pulp, usually sourced from unsustainably logged forests. Once these dirty diapers are thrown out, they can last in landfill for up to 500 years, emitting greenhouse gases.
From poop to progress
What can be done with a disposable diaper? Well, lots actually. Historically, diaper recycling was deemed unattractive due to relatively high costs, and the small amount of useable material left at the end of the process. In 2009, Rob Poyer, NappiCycle founder, decided to find a solution to this.
After some trial and error, he developed a process whereby the diapers are cleansed and plastics and cellulose fibres are separated for re-use. The recovered cellulose can be used in the manufacturing of packaging, along with notice boards for schools and offices, panelling, under laminate flooring and other insulation. The plastics are sent to secondary re-processers for recycling.
0% to landfill – taking the pi*s?
100% of the soiled diapers processed by NappiCycle are recycled, so absolutely nothing is sent to landfill; the company even reutilises the urine extracted from the diapers! In the last year alone, NappiCycle diverted more than 8,000 tonnes – the equivalent of 40 million nappies - from landfill in Wales.
What about the rest of the UK?
Pura is aiming to make its disposable diapers the kindest for both babies bottoms and the planet. Made with soft organic cotton for baby’s comfort and only natural materials against baby’s skin, Pura diapers use more renewable materials than leading brands and are produced with 100% green electricity and no production waste.
“We have chosen to work with Pura to see how we can make diapers more sustainable in terms of their recyclability,” - NappiCycle's Rob Poyer. “We feel that Pura’s diapers are the most sustainable diapers in terms of being able to reprocess.”
But the partnership doesn’t end there. To further protect the planet, it’s Pura’s ambition to eventually make diaper recycling the norm across the whole of the UK.
And we’d love to one day bring this service to US parents too. Watch this space…