Disposable Diapers Make Up 12% Of Landfill Waste!

Disposable Diapers Make Up 12% Of Landfill Waste!

Disposable diapers are one of the conveniences that make life easier. Yet the prevalence of their use is creating mountains of waste in our landfills.

Disposable diapers are just one of the conveniences that make life as a modern mom that much easier. With disposables, gone are the days of endless washing and hanging up soiled diaper cloths. Gone are our worries that the diaper cloths will not dry in rainy weather, and our babies caught without a single diaper to wear.

But did you know that disposable diapers take 200 years to decompose in a landfill?

And that disposable diapers make up 12% of our landfill waste? That's nearly equal to all the plastic waste in the landfills!

While there have been numerous campaigns to ban plastic and polystyrene products, there have been no similar campaigns to encourage the recycling of disposable diapers.

A study done last year finds that there are around 1.62 million toddlers between the age of zero to two-and-half years old in Malaysia.

If every child uses six pieces of disposable diaper a day, there would be some 3.5 billion pieces at our landfills every year. It's impossible to wrap one's head around such a figure.

Environment and Waste Management specialist Dr Theng Lee Chong told The Star that disposable diaper waste is overlooked in the country.

"They do not degrade well in a landfill and will retain their original weight, volume and form,” said Dr Theng.

He adds that every disposable diaper has super absorbent gel and plastic material which may take up to 500 years to decompose. So the convenience we enjoy today could very well bury our future generations in dirty diapers.

“Imagine the diaper worn by your baby today will be around in the landfill even after the time of your great-grand children,” he said.

Dr Theng also adds that an excrement- filled disposable diaper is bulky, heavy and contains moisture with a child's used disposable diaper weighing between 0.3kg to 0.5kg a piece. The combined weight every year of discarded disposable diapers a year could be 1.5 million tonnes. And that's a conservative figure!

To put it into perspective, 1.5 million tonnes is equivalent to the weight of over 833,000 elephants!

There's no doubt that all this waste creates a negative impact on the environment

It contributes to global warming, water pollution and public health, air pollution and non-renewable resource consumption. Human waste also contains toxins which could contaminate local water systems and cause the public to be exposed to pests, insects and rodents.

Dr Theng says that diapers can be recycled, but the Government and relevant authorities need to spearhead the campaign to promote recycling or waste separation for disposable diapers.

Parents should also look to alternative methods such as cloth diapers which are a much more environmentally friendly option. After all, they were once the go-to diaper method for our forebears.

But the question is, can we sacrifice the ease and convenience of disposable diapers?

Read more here.

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Hanna Lee

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