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Transforming diapers into picnic tables

United States – Terracycle, a specialist in hard-to-recycle wastes, is planning to convert over 3.7 million tonnes per year of waste diapers (or nappies) into, for example, outdoor furniture by installing collection containers at day care centres and other ‘€˜hot spots’€™.

Terracycle intends to ship all the collected diapers to its headquarters in New Jersey, where, after being neutralised, the plastic casing will be separated from the paper-based insides for recovery of new raw materials from the component parts. Absorbent materials can be reused in pet products or as fibre additives in concrete; meanwhile, plastic components could potentially be combined with other plastics to create ‘€˜plastic wood’€™ for park benches and picnic tables.

The system would be both efficient and odour-free, points out Terracycle’€™s Vice President of Media Relations Albe Zakes, as the shipping containers hold in 100% of the smell. ‘€˜We tested this method by hiding them around the office and seeing if anyone noticed – they did not,’€™ he says.

A challenge lies ahead in convincing parents to adopt different diaper disposal behaviour but the availability of collection services at popular hotspots should provide a boost, he adds.

At present, Terracycle is still looking for sponsors.

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