Is it Possible to Compost Diapers at Home? A Guide to Diaper Composting

Is it Possible to Compost Diapers at Home? A Guide to Diaper Composting

Americans add over 7.5 billion pounds of disposable diapers into landfills each year. In Europe, where more recycling usually happens, almost 15 percent of all garbage discarded is diapers. The percentage of trash made of diapers grows each year and there is no end in sight. What is the answer? One solution might be to compost the parts of a diaper that will break down over time. Composting diapers isn’t a complete answer to the problem, but it can help lower the amount of trash in landfills. Keep reading for more diaper composting info.

Can You Compost Diapers?

The first question most people have is, “Can you compost diapers for use in the garden?” The answer would be yes, and no. The inside of disposable diapers is made of a combination of fibers which will, in normal conditions, break down into effective, usable compost for a garden. The problem is not with the diapers themselves, but rather with the contents deposited on them. Human waste (as with dogs and cats) is filled with bacteria and other pathogens that spread disease and the average compost pile doesn’t get hot enough to kill these organisms. Compost made with diapers is safe to use for flowers, trees, and bushes if they’re kept away from other plants, but never in a food garden.

How to Compost a Diaper

If you have a compost pile and landscaping plants, you’ll reduce the amount of trash you produce by composting your disposable diapers. Only compost the wet diapers, those with solid waste should still go in the trash as usual. Wait until you have two or three days worth of wet diapers to compost. Wear gloves and hold a diaper over your compost pile. Tear down the side from the front toward the back. The side will open up and the fluffy interior will fall onto the pile. Discard the plastic leftovers and shovel the compost pile to mix it. The fibers should break down within a month or so and be ready to feed your flowering plants, trees, and bushes.

What Are Compostable Diapers?

If you search for diaper composting info online you’ll find a variety of companies that offer composting services. They all offer their own version of a compostable diaper. Each company’s diapers are filled with a different combination of fibers and they are all uniquely set up to compost their own fibers, but any regular or overnight disposable diaper can be composted like we’ve described here. It’s just a matter of whether you want to do it yourself or have someone do it for you.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.