Removing a Major Contaminant from Recycling Centers
Prepare for our yuckiest, stinkiest article yet! This month’s eNewsletter is not for the faint of heart!
Did you know that thousands of diapers are found at recycling centers across the country every single day? This month we will discuss why diapers are most certainly NOT a Single Stream recyclable item, and give you some alternative options for diapers if you find yourself guilty of tossing these into the recycle bin.
Above all, we need your help spreading the word about diapers. Even if you aren’t guilty of improperly disposing these items, but you know someone who is putting them in with their recycling, please, forward them this article or simply let them know:
“As inconvenient as it is: Diapers (dirty OR clean) are just NOT Single Stream Recyclable.”
Why & What You Can Do!
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an eco-friendly single-use diaper; it is impossible to reclaim the paper used to make them and currently, there are no readily available or accessible technologies to recycle the materials used to manufacture diapers.
There are alternatives to single-use, disposable diapers of course. Compostable diapers are available (for a slightly higher cost), and the good ol’ cloth diapers are always an option. Nevertheless, many people find washing them while raising an infant to be too much trouble.
There are also ways to compost certain parts of the filling in single-use, disposable diapers but the process is a messy one. This option may sound gross to some, but itis possible and practical. If you are interested, just bear in mind that you will need a backyard compost pile with material (other than diaper filling) already breaking down for this method to be effective. Be sure to do your research with this technique as there are many steps that must be taken to do it correctly. The best place to start is with an internet search for “composting diapers at home”.
Although these methods are all options, the vast majority of diapers are tossed in with the trash, and at this point in time- that’s the only option. Don’t fall into the “wishful recycling” trap and toss your diapers into the recycling “just in case”.
Improperly disposing of contaminants (like diapers) in your recycling causes problems at recycling processing facilities like The American Recycling Center. Correctly recycled materials (like paper, plastics etc.) become contaminated and their quality becomes damaged, making them more difficult or impossible to be remade into new products.
There are many reclaiming and recycling techniques for diapers currently being formulated, but at this time they are not yet fully developed or widely accessible. For now, the best place for single use, disposable diapers is in the garbage.
We understand that no one wants stinky diapers hanging around in the house more than a couple of days but it is important to remind you that your recycling bin/cart is to be used solely for the collection of accepted recyclables and nothing else.
Placing a trash-filled recycling bin/cart out to be picked up simply because you want to get rid of those diapers a day earlier is an unacceptable practice.