How Disposable Diapers Are Being Recycled into Plastic Roof Tiles

Disposable Diapers in the Trash

Photo: IngaMun

Are there any alternatives to landfill sites for disposable diapers? Would you believe that a few nappies could be recycled into one roofing tile?

Most Disposable Diapers are Buried in Landfill Sites

Each infant in Britain will soil up to six thousand diapers. Disposables will be trashed and buried in landfill sites, while cloth nappies will require that many washings with detergent and hot water.

At a minimum, disposable diapers make up about one percent of the volume of a landfill. Each diaper may take half a millenium to completely decompose. Since human waste can spread disease, nappies should not be thrown away carelessly.

Cloth diapers are washed and reused. This minimizes the use of cotton, although it uses detergents, water, and energy to heat the water and dry the cloth. Whether a parent chooses cloth diapers or disposables, there is some environmental cost. Even those who choose cloth diapers find disposables more convenient under some circumstances, such as travel.

Image of a Roof Tile Pattern
Photo: shaire productions

Alternative Uses for a Recycled Soiled Diaper

Some companies can recycle absorbent hygience products to make new and useful materials, including roofing shingles.

The process includes collecting and sterilizing used diapers, separating the components, and creating new products from the absorbent polymers, organic matter, and plastics.

Organics may become paper or be burned to produce electricity. The absorbents can be re-used for other packaging, or perhaps even go into the next generation of nappies. Plastics might be formed into a variety of forms, including roof tiles or plastic wood.