Most Interesting Recyclable: Dirty Diapers

Dirty Diapers are a Recyclable

Disposable diapers are a major source of waste, with millions ending up in landfills each year. The common understanding is that traditional disposable diapers are not easily recyclable due to their complex composition of various materials, including plastics, absorbent gels, and organic matter. However, this isn’t the case anymore.

Dirty disposable diapers can be recycled.

Here’s a case study:

We collaborated with a linen company specializing in serving senior homes, initially recycling cardboard together. Subsequently, they expanded their services to include diaper recycling alongside linen cleaning, resulting in additional revenue for them. The soiled diapers are sent to a tissue mill where water-soluble contaminants are eliminated and sterilized. The sterilized diapers are then processed by a pulper, transforming them into brown paper towels.

Watch: Simar Bedi, the founder of Sol Recycling discusses the recycling of dirty diapers alongside Bil Hatch.

Alternative recycling options for dirty diapers

    1.) Diapers can be recycled as manure or fuel.

Toronto is leading the way in diverting diapers from landfills. Through the city’s Green Bin program, dirty diapers, along with animal waste, cat litter, and sanitary products, are collected in the organics bin. These organic materials are then transported to a processing facility where they are converted into compost and renewable natural gas.

The resulting manure is distributed to farmlands and parks, contributing to a circular waste economy. While this approach may raise eyebrows, it’s a safe and effective method of disposal.The processed manure is completely free of pathogens, ensuring environmental safety and sustainability.

In addition, the city of Toronto in partnership with Enbridge, is using new equipment to capture the raw biogas produced from processing Green Bin organics and turning it into RNG and injecting it into the natural gas grid for City use.

2.) In House Diaper Recycler

Sz-Chwun John Hwang, a researcher from Taiwan’s Chung Hua University and his team have created a diaper recycler aimed at simplifying the process of repurposing diapers in institutions like long-term care facilities, daycares, or hospitals. The machine works by washing used diapers with disinfectant to eliminate pathogens, then separating the materials. This method consumes less water than a standard toilet, and the used water can be recycled onsite or disposed of through existing drainage systems. The estimated carbon emissions for this process are 35.1 kg of CO2 per day, based on handling 10 tons of diapers daily.

Once cleaned and separated onsite, the materials are transported to a central recycling facility. These layers are then repurposed into various products: plastic bags or trash cans from the plastic, new diapers, cardboard boxes, or paper products from the fluff fill, and absorbent pet pads, desiccant, or polyacrylate fiber from the absorbent material.

3.) Recycle into Energy

Japanese inventor Yukihiro Kimura has developed a new machine that can transform diaper waste into energy. The machines convert used adult diapers from clinics, families, and nursing homes into clean fuel without odor. Diapers undergo aging, drying, and heating to eliminate germs, producing pellets. These pellets are then utilized in biomass boilers for electricity generation or water heating.

Challenges of Diaper Recycling

Implementing change faces challenges due to limited awareness of diaper recycling’s potential. It’s crucial to raise consumer awareness and encourage participation. Toronto’s Green Bin program demonstrates the feasibility of diverting diapers from landfills. However, scaling such projects poses challenges, especially in smaller communities, due to associated costs and logistics. Businesses must take the lead in driving environmental change, as demonstrated by the linen company’s green initiative, illustrating that any business can adopt eco-friendly practices and initiate change.

Going green extends beyond environmental benefits.; it can also be financially rewarding. Businesses can capitalize on waste management strategies to generate income. Get a Free Consultation to discover how you can Save Money while adopting eco-friendly practices. Let’s END WASTE together.

January 26th, 2024

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