Innovation That Matters

Diaper disposal | Photo source Shelbey Miller on Unsplash

Researchers develop new method for recycling diapers


A university team of researchers have found a new way to make recyclable materials out of used diapers.

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With millions of diapers being used daily, disposable diaper waste accounts for a large portion of the waste in our landfills. One of the current main methods of disposal is burying diapers in landfills which can take 400 years to decompose. Even biodegradable diapers can take up to 50 years to decompose. Another common method for diaper disposal is incinerating the waste. However, this too has high environmental impacts as burning the diapers produces toxic substances. A team of researchers at Chung Hua University in Taiwan, have come up with a solution to diaper disposal. Their new technique uses a decomposition process to retrieve materials in diapers that are reusable. This includes fluff, polyethylene, pulp and sodium polyacrylate.

After retrieving reusable materials, they then recycle them into products including cardboard boxes and plastic bags. The environmental advantages of their new technique were acknowledged by their successful win at a product contest in 2017 run by the Environmental Protection Administration. One of the environmental benefits of the recycling method is that reusing pulp helps save trees. In addition, implementing this new technique and reducing the use of incinerators will also decrease carbon emissions. To develop their design further, the researchers are planning to create a bigger machine. The new machine will be able to process and retrieve recyclable materials from 10 tonnes of diapers daily.

Here at Springwise, we have published many innovations that recycle waste into new products. For example, a UK company is recycling gum into new products such as mobile phone covers, wellington boots and stationary. Another innovation is by an Australian company who are creating a new plant-free eco-fibre from coconut by-products. What other techniques can researchers develop to give waste products a second life?



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