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Cat litter made from diapers

The diapers manufacturers want to recycle diapers. Thus, a huge waste problem could be solved. However, conservationists doubt the feasibility.

Janis Beenen Janis Beenen

Janis staff of the economic editorial staff is Beenen. Rhein, grew up in the down economy, studied political journalism in Dortmund. Likes to travel the world. Only carnival he will be home.

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follow anyone Who has a Baby, knows the Problem: Five-, six-, and seven times in the day, the diapers need to be changed, and sometimes even more frequently. Until a child can independently use a toilet, to drop from 4000 to 6000 nappies - and thus a huge amount of waste. In some cities, the diapers make up ten percent of the Waste, according to the Federal nature conservation. What was worn for a few hours, and is then burned in, as a rule, the contained plastic material is thus lost forever.

The American consumer products group Procter & Gamble (P&G) is looking now for a way to reduce this mountain of waste a little. The manufacturer of Pampers diapers, has developed a technology that disposable diapers of small children, but also those of older people with incontinence, recycle.

Procter & Gamble is not in command of its brand business in Germany. Experts estimate the market share of up to 70 percent. Except for a few in-house brands in the drugstores there are no really well-known competition, approximately 700 million euros are being implemented per year with the diapers - and the trend is rising. Conservationists therefore are longer in the pressure on the company to do something against the growing amount of diaper waste. Greenpeace complained that a crucial part of the plastic originates in the sea of articles, the corporations such as P&G manufacture. Also diapers and its packaging.

A Start-up wants to establish a plastic-free diaper

With a Recycling plant, which is being tested in the North-East of Italy, wants to tackle P&G of the Problem. This has been developed by the consumer goods group with a local Partner and the Fraunhofer Institute for silicate research. "In the plant in Italy, we clean the used diapers," says Roberto Marinucci, Deputy chief of baby products, and sustainability at P&G: "Then the components are separated and used as secondary raw materials for use in new products recycled." Not only for the own-brand diapers, but also for the products of the competition, the technology should work.

In a complex near Treviso in Italy are diapers to be recycled.

(photo: Massimo Pinca/REUTERS)

A diaper consists of several glued together layers, which need to be solved. So far Tinker failed to develop an effective process that filters out the components of plastic, cellulosic and super absorbent Polymer. In the Italian system the used diapers go through several stations. First, they are sterilized with the help of high-pressure steam and odours are eliminated. Thereafter, the product is crushed in order to get to the respective components. These can then be used. The suction strong cellulose goes into the cat litter. Other customers use plastic clothespins or school desks. Other uses are to be added, in order to keep raw materials for as long as possible in the cycle. For the buyer, the model is worth it, apparently. The recycled Material costs less than a newly produced, graced with the goods.

Still, conservationists are skeptical. "Logistics is an unsolved Problem," says Rolf Buschmann, an expert in waste at the Federal environment and nature conservation (BUND). Procter & Gamble has to collect the diapers before they are recycled. The company relies, among other things, to hospitals and homes for the elderly. At these places the Bushmen can only imagine the success of the new technology. In the case of households, he announced a nationwide collection "probably not feasible".

diapers for millions of

Four of the group's investments Procter&Gamble would need it in order to recycle the amount of diapers and similar hygiene articles, and produced in Berlin. The prototype in Italy can cover with an annual capacity of 10 000 tons a Region with about one Million inhabitants. In the capital, the population is approaching the number of the Four-million mark. The model of the Pampers company should be a comprehensive solution, you would have a lot to be built.

Marinucci encountered concerns with a broad Smile and an ambitious Plan. A single solution for all countries and regions, he doubts, since the waste systems are too different, in principle he can imagine but a collection system, to the glass concept, is remembered. Parents are to Deposit, so his idea of diapers in a Box and bring them later to a collection. Many families are willing to do something for the environment, says Marinucci. Therefore, to promote sustainable consumption. The conservationists Buschmann is less euphoric. It may need incentives to move people to Recycle. P&G would, however, compete in other countries. The plant, which is being tested in Italy, can cover a Region with about one Million inhabitants. 10 000 tonnes of nappies a year can be processed.

cloth diapers can be used multiple times

the FEDERAL man Buschmann holds a traditional Alternative for mass-market. Prefer eco-conscious parents should buy cloth diapers. These are reusable and must be washed. The energy for the washing machine in deterioration in their life cycle assessment. Nevertheless, they were the more environmentally friendly variant, of the Bushmen.

This Thesis is controversial. Some calculation shows that the reusable cloth diaper in terms of environmental pollution is just as harmful as the disposable diaper from the drugstore or the supermarket. Ultimately, it comes down to the amount of used cloth diapers, and the number of degrees when Washing.

Not only the many parents, little popular cloth diaper makes the prestige project of P&G competition. In the case of disposable goods, a Start-up from Germany is working on a suitable solution. The founder of fair, a diaper, a set of parents, want to establish a compostable Ökowindel without plastic. 85 percent of the diaper consisting of renewable raw materials, says founder Dominic Franck. Instead of an outer shell made of plastic, a bio-film encloses, for example, corn-based, the diaper, in order to make them tight.

The sales figures, reported chemist Franck. The Problem is the price. "Our diapers cost 55 cents per piece," says Franck. The diapers cost significantly less than half. With a higher production quantity, fair diaper would like to reduce in the future the price. Environmental expert Bushman, there is encouragement for the approach. In the case of the combustion of the diaper most of the material is at least carbon-neutral.

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