- Globally, an estimated 18 billion single-use diapers are thrown in landfills each year
- Disposables take as many as 500 years to decompose, and commonly contain raw, untreated sewage
- Disposable diapers make up the third largest source of solid waste in landfills, after newspapers and food and beverage containers
- The average baby goes through 5,000 diapers, which generates one ton of waste
- Single-use diapers have also been shown to consume greater quantities of energy and raw materials, and to generate more potentially toxic pollutants on a per-diaper-change basis
There are many studies and debates surrounding reusable versus disposable diapers. While disposable diapers have made some progress in recent years to become less damaging to the environment, they still represent a burden to municipal landfills and continue to deplete natural resources; over 4 million disposable diapers are discarded in Canada per day8.
In contrast, the average cloth diaper is used between 100 and 150 times as a diaper, and then retired. Retired cloth diapers are in high demand and have a second lifecycle wherever soft, lint-free rags are needed.
Furthermore, washing cloth diapers at home uses 50 to 70 gallons of water every three days – about the same as a toilet-trained child or adult flushing the toilet five to six times a day. Our service puts the diapers through an average of 13 water changes, but because of the economies of scale, uses less water and energy per diaper than one laundry load at home9. The waste water produced from washing our diapers is benign since we use a chlorine neutraliser, while the waste water from the manufacture of the pulp, paper, and plastics used in disposable diapers contains dioxins, solvents, sludge, and heavy metals.
8. EnviroZine, Issue 45, August 5, 2004, Environment Canada.