How Long Does It Take For A Diaper To Decompose

How Long Does It Take For A Diaper To Decompose?

David Kranker

Quick Summary
The length of time it takes for a diaper to decompose is going to depend on the materials it’s made with. Common disposable diapers will take roughly 500 years to fully decompose because of the plastic outer shell. Biodegradable diapers decompose 10 times faster than common disposable diapers and fully decompose within 50 years.

There's no denying that diapers are a must-have item for any family. Your child will go through thousands of diapers in the first year. The typical cost of diapers for one baby is $840 per year and an average baby will use around 6,000 diapers in their first two years of life.

It's essential to consider the potential effects of all those diapers on your child and the environment. Although natural diapers are better for the environment, disposable diapers containing plastic have become the norm. Most individuals, especially new parents, don't have time to consider the environmental effects of diapering. 

Disposable diapers represent 4% of all solid waste dumped in landfills and they use 20 times more raw materials than natural diaper alternatives. Do you know how long it takes for these diapers to decompose completely?

What Is A Diaper Made Of?

If you know what goes into a diaper, you can make an informed decision about how it will affect your child and how quickly it will break down in the compost bin. The time it takes for a diaper to decompose will vary depending on the materials the diaper is made of. 

The common disposable diaper has four main parts: the cover, the distribution layer, the absorbent core, and the outer shell.

Your child's skin will be in contact with the top sheet. It can absorb liquids without becoming soaked or brittle and quickly transmit them to the body's center. Most manufacturers will not tell you what chemicals they use in their products until you ask them to.

The distribution layer goes just below the cover sheet. It facilitates the movement of fluids away from your baby's skin and uniformly distributes the liquid throughout the core for improved absorption.

Next, there's the absorbent center, which keeps fluids from leaking out. The superabsorbent polyacrylate granules and fluff pulp are combined to create this part. The polyacrylate material and waste section work together to keep the urine contained and dry.

The outer shell encloses and protects everything inside. Often, it is chemically processed plastic derived from petroleum. While some eco-friendly manufacturers produce plastics with plant-based resins, these typically do not have recyclable exterior coverings.

What Is Decomposition?

Decomposition is the process through which an object's chemical components are broken down into simpler compounds and returned to the Earth for subsequent usage by the natural world. Something has existed since the beginning of time and is quite natural. 

Since the advent of industrialization, we've developed nonbiodegradable items that take a long time to decompose and emit toxic chemicals. Plastic, used in many everyday objects (including diapers) yet is also a significant contributor to pollution, is one example of such material.

How Much Time Does a Diaper Take to Decompose?

As previously mentioned, the time it takes for diapers to decompose will vary largely depending on the materials used in the production of the diaper. Common disposable diapers take much longer to decompose than their more natural alternatives. 

Average Decomposition Times For Common Diapers

We believe common diapers that include plastic will take roughly 500 years to decompose, but we can’t be certain yet. Plastic wasn't created until 1907, so we haven't even had it for 200 years, let alone 500. Still, scientists can make extremely well-informed assumptions thanks to the mathematical and scientific tools at their disposal.

Average Decomposition Times For Biodegradable Diapers

This type of diaper's name speaks for itself. The components of a natural diaper are derived from plants. These eco-friendly substitutes often use fewer chemicals and safer materials in production, and they break down in the environment more rapidly than their unnatural counterparts.

Bamboo is the most widely used plant fiber for making eco-friendly diapers. Most diapers made from bamboo are soft against a newborn's skin, breathable, and reasonably priced. Because they don't contain chemicals, they're safe to use and effective at halting the spread of potentially dangerous and obnoxious microorganisms. In addition, bamboo diapers are biodegradable and decompose over time, even in unfavorable settings. It takes bamboo diapers roughly 2-3 months to fully decompose when composted. 

Of course, it’s important to note that diapers thrown away in the trash will end up in a landfill where they will take longer to decompose. Landfills aren’t well optimized for helping trash break down. Diapers made of biodegradable materials can take up to 50 years to decompose in a landfill, which is still a significant improvement from 500 years. 

Why Are Common Diapers Harmful To The Ecosystem?

There is an environmental impact and carbon footprint from all diapers, whether disposable or reusable. There is simply no way to avoid it. Both cloth and disposable diapers necessitate production and disposal processes. It is necessary to wash (and possibly dry) reusable ones after each use. However, common disposable diapers sold in most grocery stores today are far more harmful for the environment.

An estimated 300,000 disposable diapers are dumped into landfills worldwide every minute. Imagine the wreckage we are leaving behind for future generations with common diapers that will take roughly 500 years each to decompose. Moreover, many of the chemicals used in common diapers will recirculate through the Earth. 

Can You Recycle Diapers?

Diapers aren't suitable for recycling. Thus, they have to be thrown away together with the trash. Rigid plastics, such as bottles and containers, are the only type of plastic that can be recycled at the curb.

Diapers packaged in cardboard boxes can be sorted alongside other paper and cardboard recyclables; if they are packed in plastic shrink wrap, find out if your grocery store recycles plastic bags.

Do Biodegradable Diapers Exist?

Diapers can be made without harmful chemicals and dyes by switching to materials like bamboo, which is biodegradable.

Read the fine print on diaper packaging to find out if the company lives up to its eco-friendly claims. Although some diapers might be biodegradable, this is not the case for most. Branding and buzzwords like "natural," "eco-friendly," and "sustainable" can make it difficult to tell which products meet these standards. 

With Andy Pandy disposable bamboo diapers, the layer made out of bamboo viscose is 100% biodegradable. To make the diapers more effective, we do use some non-biodegradable components for the adhesives, elastics, and sap. 

Pros of Using Bamboo Diapers

The fact that bamboo diapers may be broken down and reabsorbed by the Earth in a short time is a significant plus, but there are other benefits to using bamboo diapers as well.

Unbelievably Soporific

Since bamboo absorbs moisture and transfers it elsewhere, your baby will stay drier and less likely to get a rash from their diapers—the bamboo's capacity to let air in aids in this regard.

Made With Sustainable Materials

When properly cared for, bamboo can grow as much as four feet in a single day, and it's constantly replenished. As a bonus, most types of bamboo reach full maturity in only three to six years.

Ecologically Viable

Bamboo can grow again from its roots without the help of any pesticides or herbicides, uses only a tiny amount of water, doesn't need irrigation, and doesn't even need to be replanted. In addition, it benefits Earth's atmosphere by taking in 35% more carbon dioxide and giving off the same amount of oxygen as trees of the same height.

Make The Switch To Eco-Friendly Diapers With Andy Pandy

As parents of a child still in diapers, you likely have a lot riding on your decision about which diapers are best for your infant. Diapers have a cost in terms of money and the environment, and both must be considered.

Our bamboo diapers are made without harmful chemicals or materials so that they won't contribute to pollution. They break down more quickly and don't poison the environment with toxic substances.

Shop our bamboo disposable diapers today to experience the difference Andy Pandy diapers provide. Have questions about Andy Pandy diapers? Don’t hesitate to contact us via our online contact form