Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Dutch passion for recycling finds new target: disposable nappies

Dutch passion for recycling finds new target: disposable nappies

Dutch passion for recycling finds new target: disposable nappies


The town of Wageningen started a recycling campaign for disposable nappies
(diapers) at the beginning of October. This can save trees, water and oil.

A firm in Arnhem collects the waste and separates it at the factory into
wood pulp, plastic, water, superabsorbent polymers (SAPs, 2%) and urine and
faecal waster (4%). The water is purified, the wood pulp is used to make
wallpaper or sandpaper, and the plastic is used for plastic wood and
plastic wrapping. Ways in which SAPs can be reused are still being
investigated.

The environmental advantages to recycling disposable nappies come mainly
through the reuse of the raw materials. Harry Bruning of the sub-department
of Environmental Technology at Wageningen University is positive about the
nappy collection. “It’s a good sign that the recycling is being done by a
commercial company. Whether or not it’s successful depends on the consumers
though. It is easy enough to collect incontinence materials from big
organisations like old people’s homes and hospitals, but it’s a different
matter whether young parents who often live in cramped housing are prepared
to keep the smelly nappies in a separate container until they are
collected. The temptation to throw them away with the rest of the garbage
must be pretty high.

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