Recycling has never been a hotter subject, and with good reason. With plastic waste devastating our oceans and landfills reaching capacity at an alarming rate, many believe that we're in an economic crisis. Around 20 billion disposable diapers are used in the US each year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these single-use products contaminate the environment with pathogens, thanks to their contents. While cloth diapers are slowly gaining popularity, a group of engineers has devised a way to recycle disposable diapers.
The BBC reports that a pilot project in Italy is testing a new and innovative way to tackle the disposable diaper epidemic. Proctor and Gamble, the world's largest diaper retailer, is giving the project their full backing. Firstly, the used diapers are placed in a large metal storage container where the fumes are filtered off to help dampen the rancid smell in the factory. Then, they're placed into a large cement mixer-like machine which pumps out heat, pressure, and steam. This helps all of the waste from the nappies come off, leaving behind just the material, which is then shredded. The wet material is placed in an oven to kill off any remaining bacteria.
As diapers are made up of several different components, the shredded contents are filtered and separated. According to the BBC correspondent, the result is a completely functional material that no longer smells like it once did. Surprisingly, you can get more out of a recycled used diaper than you might think. The plastic can be reused in multiple ways, from small bins to pegs, while the absorbent material could be used as cat litter.
Although the program is still in the very early stages, it's an exciting development that could pave the way for more projects like it. After all, most of us want to make the world a better place for our children, and that might mean not making them a part of the problem.
What do you think? Would you use an item that was once on a baby's behind, or is that concept too much for you? Let us know in the comments.