Can Diapers Be Recycled? Everything You Need To Know

According to some studies, a baby uses 2,000 diapers in the first year. The number of diapers used is too much each year. So, can diapers be recycled?

The truth is that regular disposable ones are not recyclable because a full diaper is made up of many materials, from paper, plastic, absorbent materials.

Diaper recycling is quite a difficult challenge, where all efforts have not yielded satisfactory results. To learn about this issue, let’s refer to the information!

Can Diapers Be Recycled? 

some diapers for baby

Can Diapers Be Recycled? 

As mentioned, these items, especially disposable ones, are made up of many different materials. Some of the materials, such as paper, will be recyclable, while others will not.

Recycling is not a good idea, even for easy-to-handle materials like paper. When used, the diaper is contaminated with human waste. Recycling will help us use these materials again but cannot guarantee health safety.

For all of the above reasons, this type of household waste cannot be recycled like most other commonly found products.

How Many Years Do Diapers Decompose? 

Since it’s not a good idea for recycling, composting is one of the many common ways to dispose of the products.

However, the truth is that despite its soft texture, this non-recyclable waste takes hundreds of years to decompose. According to some studies, it takes 500 times for all the ingredients that make up this product to biodegrade fully.

Explaining why an object consisting of only cotton, plastic, and paper takes so long to decompose must consider the origin of the material.

These materials contain petroleum, thermoplastic polymers, polyacrylate polymers, polyester, sometimes even a bit of flavoring or coloring, depending on the manufacturer.

The names are mainly from kerosene plastic. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that such materials take up to 500 years to decompose completely.

Are Recycled Ones Perfect For The Environment? 

A Non-biodegradable, non-recyclable disposable diaper is very harmful to the environment.

In addition, a human waste treatment product containing many bacteria that have existed for hundreds of years will significantly affect human health and other animals accidentally exposed.

That’s where compostable products come in. This product is commonly known as biodegradable ones. The paper will make up a large part of the material list of this diaper. 

However, plastic is still an indispensable material to make diapers, and the manufacturers want to reduce the percentage of plastic to as low as possible.

Some manufacturers use more eco-friendly packaging to reduce plastic waste.

Cloth vs. Biodegradable

As mentioned, Biodegradable ones are not completely biodegradable and can still be harmful to the environment.

Is there a safer alternative, and what is the difference between this solution and the traditional product? And the answer lies in the fabric – a viral material before the first disposable diaper appeared.

Before deciding to favor any product, you should consider the differences between biodegradable fabrics one listed below:

Fabric Biodegradable diapers
Skin Health Some natural materials like cotton, bamboo. It is breathable less likely to cause diaper rash. Uses super absorbent polymers that trap more liquid per unit area, keeping it dry.
Cost The initial cost is expensive. But become economical because it can be reused many times. Disposable ones are an ongoing and substantial expense.
Impact on the environment Used many times, reducing the amount of waste released into the environment. Disposable and still have non-disposable ingredients.

The above comparisons are approximate because there are still many controversies related to this issue. 

For example, using fabric is not that economical because laundry should be considered. Or the fact that the production process of cotton and yarn makes the fabric not an utterly eco-friendly choice.


With many pictures above, you will probably be quite confused when choosing diaper material. To make your choice easier, you may need to address the following frequently asked questions:

Should I Throw Diapers In The Recycle Bin?

types of recycle bins

Should I Throw It In The Recycle Bin? 

It would help if you did not throw diapers in the recycling bin. As mentioned, the material and the nature of the product do not allow this product to be reusable.

Suppose you accidentally put this type of waste in the recycling bins. In that case, you will not only make it difficult for the staff at the recycling station to sort, but you may also end up leaving other recyclables in the container.

What kind of waste is available in diapers?

Used diapers are solid waste. This type of waste does not have many treatment options other than incineration and landfill.

Diapers and other hard-to-treat solid waste will lie in open-air dumps for years until they can decompose.

How many landfills are diapers?

landfills waste


According to some statistics, disposable ones now account for 2% of landfill waste and 4% of solid waste in the United States.

Meanwhile, if your family has at least one child, this type of disposable product will account for 50% of the household’s household waste.


Newborns use thousands in their first years of life. The amount of money spent on this product is not small. But more interesting is how thousands of diapers will be disposed of after use.

With the answers to the question above, you already know that it’s time to consider another treatment for one of these non-biodegradable household waste in the longer term; there is a need to find more environmentally friendly alternatives, of which fabric is a good candidate.



I'm Rosaura, five years worked as Nurse in NY. I'm also an avid writer, seeking to share knowledge to take care your family's health through this blog.