How Long Does It Take for a Diaper to Decompose

How Long Does It Take for a Diaper to Decompose: The Myths and Facts

One thing about having a newborn is the consistent use of diapers. Some people use cloth diapers as a more eco-friendly option, but most people use disposable diapers. However, the decomposing factors aren’t usually talked about.

Statistics show that before babies go through potty training, they use well over 6,000 disposable diapers. The cost of diapers for a baby lies between $1,400 and $2,000. The story around disposable diapers is that of trash and cash, as they also contribute to 2% of the landfills in the U.S..

Compartmentalization of a Diaper

A diaper is made up of the inner layer, an absorbent core, and a waterproof outer layer.

The inner layer is the piece that touches your baby’s delicate skin, and most diaper companies don’t reveal what goes into making it.

They designed the absorbent core to hold liquids. Most diapers incorporate fluff and Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) to trap fluid in them. The absorbent material traps the liquid away from the baby’s skin while the fluff spreads it out.

The outer layer keeps the liquid inside from escaping. It’s mostly made of petroleum-based plastic and is frequently treated with chemicals. Tributyltin, one of the chemicals in diapers, inhibits the growth of microorganisms. This chemical doesn’t decompose.

Petroleum keeps diapers from leaking. Dioxins, a known environmental pollutant and highly toxic, are also found in disposable diapers. However, they don’t make the outer layer from recyclable plastics.

Are Diapers Biodegradable?

Diapers’ ingredients, according to Pampers Swaddlers Newborn Diapers, include polymers, polypropylene/polyethylene, polyester, petrolatum, stearyl alcohol, fragrance, amongst other things.

The traditional diapers are, sadly, not biodegradable. Non-biodegradable implies that it’s not fully made from natural materials and might not naturally decompose and return to the earth. Plastic isn’t biodegradable, and single-use diapers are often produced from a variety of plastic-based materials, as mentioned earlier.

How Long Does It Take for a Diaper to Decompose?

According to the statistics released by Real Diaper, a disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose in a landfill. Produced by Johnson & Johnson, disposable diapers became widely known in 1948.

Nowadays, scientists are working hard to develop natural or biodegradable diapers that will decompose in landfills. Many have less hazardous substances and seek to use more biodegradable materials rather than those made from chemicals.

However, not all eco-friendly diapers degrade, and not all eco-friendly diapers will have an environmental impact. Although these diapers are better for your baby’s skin because they include fewer chemicals and use more organic materials and plant-based materials.

Diaper to Decompose

Are Biodegradable Diapers Better for the Environment?

Single-use biodegradable or compostable diapers have become more popular nowadays compared to conventional single-use diapers. Biodegradable diapers, as a whole, use more sustainable materials and eco-friendly manufacturing methods than regular diapers.

When companies use phrases like “pure,” “green,” “natural,” and “eco-friendly” on their diaper package, they imply the product is long-lasting and environmentally friendly. These companies go above and beyond to make their diapers a little less bad for the environment by utilizing biodegradable materials, wood pulp, and avoiding chlorine.

How Long Do Biodegradable Diapers Take to Decompose?

We have answered the question of how long does it take for a diaper to decompose.

In a commercial compost setting, a biodegradable diaper can take between 3 – 6 months to decompose. However, in a landfill, the duration is more complicated to determine and it can take up to 50 years!

Whether conventional, biodegradable, or compostable, when a diaper is thrown into the garbage, it ends up in a landfill. The landfill conditions will make the diapers take years to decompose. However, a more sustainable option would be to use cloth diapers.

The eco-friendly and green world is rapidly developing, which is encouraging for parents. Parents are now open to lots of options than ever before. As a result, you can quickly choose which diaper is the greatest fit for you after considering the health impact on your baby and your wallet.

Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are softer on the skin of babies, but they aren’t totally environmentally friendly. They must be washed repeatedly, hence, they use more electricity and water than other diapers. The consoling part of it is the fact that the same can be said for clothing, which we wash frequently, although we have no alternative means of dressing ourselves.

Some believe that cloth and disposable diapers have similar environmental impacts, but for different reasons. Disposable diapers have a higher carbon footprint when compared to cloth diapers.

But, before disposable diapers got popular, parents were diapering their babies with reusable diapers. To this day, using reusable cloth diapers is the most eco-friendly option in diapering your baby.


Disposable diapers take a long time to degrade, resulting in a large amount of waste in landfills where it will remain for years. Many businesses are beginning to explore alternatives to help lessen their environmental impact. There’s no single diapering solution that’s perfect for every parent, baby, and the environment.

With time, innovative concepts with better environmental opportunities will emerge. But, for the time being, concentrate on the solution that best suits you and your family. Consider alternative diapering options if you have the opportunity to enhance your environmental condition!

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