Why not compost your disposable nappies?

Commercial composting of single use nappies (disposable nappies) is a relatively new initiative that seeks to reduce the landfill impact of disposable nappies. There are many questions however, that have not yet been answered.

Composting disposable nappies does reduce some of the landfill, but it doesn’t address many issues associated with the production of paper nappies, such as the biochemical safety of the manufacturing process and the energy required to make them.  Although the problem of disposing of a nappy is a major concern, the actual production of a single use product such of this is also of concern.

To actually compost the nappies, it is not simply a case of putting them into your compost bin.  Instead, even more energy is required to collect these single use items from your doorstep, transport them to the composting plant, separate the plastic from the compostable part, then heat the remainder to the right level for a considerable period of time. Surely that’s just throwing good energy after something that was rubbish to begin with!

Other questions to consider:

Is it safe to compost the chemical gel, and is the resultant compost safe to put on your garden?  When we don’t even know what chemicals are in the different brands of disposable nappies, would you be happy to then use compost made from them?

What percentage of the disposable nappies is able to be composted, and how much plastic and other non-biodegradables need to be landfilled anyway?  If only a small amount of the nappies can be composted, is it really worth using the energy needed for this process, when much will still need to be disposed of?

Reduce, reuse recycle

Ideally we should be reducing waste, reusing items and then recycling.  Although by composting nappies we are recycling some of the elements that they are made from, it is far better for the environment to use a reusable item (such as a cloth nappy) rather than a single use item (like a disposable) that is then recycled, or in this case composted.

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