In Santa Clara, California, a diaper recycling program has been enacted. You can check your area for a similar program, but it is a fairly new concept and might not be available yet. I would advise against doing any at home projects with used diapers because human waste is a biological hazard and can spread disease. If diaper waste is something that bothers you, I would recommend reusable cloth diapers.
Because diapers contain plastics and polymers mixed with paper, they are extremely hard to recycle. A diaper can take up to 500 years to break down, all the while releasing the chemicals used to make them – many of which are toxic – into our environment. Every baby requires about 6,000 diapers before getting potty trained, so just in the U.S. alone, per year, that is a lot of diapers!! Pauleen is right, however – some companies are pursuing diaper recycling initiatives. In the United Kingdom, for example, the company Knowaste plans on recycling used diapers in order to help manufacture a variety of products, including bicycle helmets and vinyl siding for houses. They plan on doing this through a process of mechanically separating the useful plastics from the organic matter that composes the diapers, turning the plastic into pellets that can be reused. The U.S. is the most lucrative country for this type of business, as Americans use the most disposable diapers of any other country in the world. However, there are alternatives out there that promote themselves as eco-friendly, such as qDiapers: they have a washable outside and a disposable inside that can be flushed down the toilet with minimal effects on the environment. Of course, that’s if you don’t want to use the more old-fashioned method of cloth diapers.
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