Diapers and sanitary napkins are widely used, take half a million years to decompose and, at least until now, they end up in landfill. For example, each baby uses an average of 6000 diapers in their lifetime, and 1.3 million tonnes of feminine hygiene products per year are disposed only in North America. In Italy alone, 900.000 tonnes of diaper end up each year in landfill.
Enter the recycling facility of Fater Smart, which is part of Fater S.p.a, the joint venture between Procter & Gamble and the Angelini group that produces the Pampers, Lines and Tampax lines.
According to La Republicca, this is the first facility worldwide able to recycle disposed diapers and sanitary products and is based in Treviso. Diapers are sterilized, dried and separated into their essential components which are plastic, cellulose and super-absorbent polymer. They can then find a way to construction of furnishings, utensils, cables and building material.
The only problem in this case is that the existing legal framework is not up-to-date with the new technology. The products of this facility cannot be sold, because they are still considered waste.
Considering that the infrastructure for separate collection of diapers and sanitary products is already in place in many areas, the company estimates that if the legislation allows them to sell the end products of recycling, this would lead to 300 million investments, thousands of jobs, considerable turnover and CO2 emissions savings equal to the emissions of 115.000 cars each year.
Singapore-based company Diaper Recycling Technology is currently building machines to recover raw materials from defective diapers along the production line. The technology exists and is promising. Updating the legal framework can help re-use of materials that are now considered as waste, and reduce the burden of landfills with substantial economic benefits.