Are Diapers Biodegradable?
Most Diapers Are Not Biodegradable
Not all diapers are biodegradable or eco-friendly. In fact, most diapers in use today are not. A typical disposable diaper takes hundreds of years to fully decompose - though nobody REALLY knows, since no disposables have been in the landfill that long! According to the EPA, potentially toxic waste is left to sit inside landfills in plastic diapers for centuries. The average baby (and there are LOTS of babies out there!) goes through nearly 7,000 diapers before potty training, making disposable diapers the 3rd-largest source of household waste in the U.S.
Some modern cloth diaper companies, such as GroVia, are presenting environmentally-friendly solutions to this problem. One method of reducing disposable diaper waste is the production of cloth and reusable diapers. Families who use cloth diapers ensure that their baby's waste is flushed down the toilet, into the appropriate treatment system. And by using cloth diapers, these families also have a positive impact on the number of disposable diapers that are headed to the landfill.
Other diaper companies produce disposable biodegradable diapers that contain materials that are less harmful to the environment. In some cases, companies are combining both cloth and eco-friendly disposable components to make what is referred to as a "hybrid" diaper. GroVia offers one of the best known hybrid diapers, which lets you choose between cloth absorbency or a disposable absorbency layer which is made primarily from biodegradable and compostable materials. These have the added benefit of being free of chlorine and perfumes, with a core made of sustainably harvested wood pulp fibers. This type of absorbency layer can be used and thrown away just like a disposable diaper, except that it is designed to decompose much faster.
Hybrid diapers can be an easy, eco-friendly solution to the problem of disposable diapers. If you are looking for the more environmentally friendly diapering option, reusable cloth diapers ALWAYS win and are by far the most cost effective way to diaper your baby. Instead of putting 7,000 diapers into a landfill, you could purchase a few dozen cloth diapers or hybrid diapers and be completely prepared until you potty train your baby. Fewer diapers for your baby means fewer resources used to produce them. Your pocket book will thank you too. Over a lifetime of use, cloth diapers cost roughly a third of what disposable diapers do, even when factoring in the water/energy/detergent used to clean them. Once your baby is potty trained, cloth diapers can even be re-sold or repurposed for continued use.