So here’s some sobering facts…If you were to throw away one incontinence pad today, it would not decompose until 2514. If Captain Cook wore an incontinence pad when he stepped ashore in Australia, his pad would not have decomposed yet.
Australian Science Magazine (AS) outlines the stats for us…Australians use around 5.6 million nappies per day, equating to 2 billion disposable baby nappies going to landfill each year.
Now consider how many disposable pads need to be added to that figure from adult incontinence and feminine hygiene disposable products. That’s scary!
Consider the manufacturing impact of this. As AS points out, disposable nappies and pads require large volumes of pulp, paper, plastic and other raw materials in the manufacturing process and hence, significant amounts of water and energy are used. This contributes to energy waste and pollution on a large scale and also links to other problems associated with deforestation and non-sustainable sourcing.
Disposable nappies and incontinence pads are the third consumer item in landfill, and represent 30% of non-biodegradable waste.
Now let’s look at the USA! Approximately 90-95% of American babies use 27.4 billion single-use, plastic nappies every year. This generates 7.6 billion pounds of garbage each year—enough waste to fill Yankee Stadium 15 times over, or stretch to the moon and back 9 times. Every year.
Disposable ‘diapers’ contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S.
No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.
Without sun and air, even so-called “eco-friendly” diapers labeled biodegradable do NOT biodegrade in landfills, and cause just as much of a problem as regular diapers.
Sadly, in the five minutes it will take you to read this article, another 200,000 throwaway diapers will enter landfills in the U.S. where they will sit for at least 500 years before decomposing.
We need to look to alternatives.