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Diesel Diapers?

Posted by Bryana on 10/31/2007 to Cloth Diaper News

As I've stated here at CDB more than once, disposable diapers are for single use only, but wait! Maybe, I'm wrong. And if so, I've got to hand it to Luciana Piciacchia, vice-president of Quebec operations for the global engineering giant AMEC PLC. Why? You ask. Because Piciacchia is overseeing the design of a plant in Quebec that intends to churn up the 3.6 million tons of diaper waste accumulated in the last 3 1/2 decades, and subsequent decades, and make it into synthetic diesel fuel.

Disposable diapers. Are they "waste or watts? Feces or fuel?"

Yep, you read right, disposable diapers, the 3rd largest single consumer item in landfills which represents 30% of our nation's non-biodegradable waste, might just be our future fuel. The process of making diesel from diapers is called pyrolysis, which sounds a lot to me like paralysis - a ceasing of movement. And honestly, if we were all a bit smarter WE WOULD CEASE the use of disposable diapers altogether and select from the variety of cloth diapers and cloth diaper covers available on the market today.

"A baby, from the time it's born to the time it's toilet trained, will go through a tonne of diapers,' [Piciacchia] says, adding that the load will increase as aging boomers turn to adult incontinence products." That is quite a bit of "raw materials" setting around. I'm all for chemically breaking down diapers into something reusable, especially as it does not involve combustion and emissions are strictly controlled, but let's not forget that prevention is worth 2 pounds, or heck - even 3 tons, of cure.

Sure we need to clean up the past, but the future? Wouldn't it make more sense to make the right choices, as opposed to churning up our mistakes? Disposable diapers have become our new fossil fuel only because we're forced to do SOMETHING with them. The fact still remains that we are steadily depleting our tree supply as we're cutting trees much faster than they can grow. Can you imagine a world without trees? Can you imagine a world without trees just so we can have paper pulp for the absorbent core of our diapers? Surely you'd rather cloth diaper your baby than look across the vast horizon and see nothing but processing plants for the new and improved diaper diesel, right?

I've got to hand it to Piciacchia and the boys over at AMEC PLC for their ingenius ideas of decreasing the amount of nonbiodegradable items sitting in our landfills, but should we really be working so hard to keep up with the demand?

No. I don't think so.

Sources Hamilton, Tyler. "Turning Dirty Diapers Into Diesel." 29 October 2007.