The diapers from babies and toddlers represent a considerable annual mass of waste and are an untapped source of recyclable matter
PARIS : The diapers of our beloved babies and toddlers represent a considerable annual mass of waste. Energy Observer Solutions met up with Les Alchimistes, a company in the Paris region, which recycles diapers from four daycare centres and manages to make a quality compost from this hitherto unexploited bio-waste.
Every year in France, consumers buy and throw away 3.5 billion diapers. To recycle this waste, the start-up Les Alchimistes recovers the organic matter from the layers to make compost.
Used diapers represent huge waste streams, that mostly end up in incineration.
In the first two years of life, babies consume an average of two to eight diapers a day, and therefore generate more than a ton of this waste. In a household with a child under the age of two, disposable diapers account for 40 per cent of the household waste. The start-up Les Alchimistes sees this waste as a potential. These bio-waste specialists have designed a mechanical process that recovers organic matter from used diapers and transforms it into compost: this is the “Couches Fertiles” project.
At a dedicated area in Seine-Saint-Denis (93), a machine separates the plastic from the organic pulp, which is combined with wood shavings and coffee grounds to obtain compost. The composting of diapers has been carried out experimentally since 2019 in collaboration with five Parisian nurseries and has avoided the incineration of four tonnes of waste.
For Les Alchimistes, the long-term objective is to create a virtuous circuit from the layer to the compost, and to work with industrial partners to create a 100 per cent compostable diaper.
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