If you’re using biodegradable diapers and wipes because they don’t make your baby break out in a rash – fabulous! Biodegradable diapers are made from plant-based materials and are free from harmful chemicals and plastics, so they tend to be gentler on your baby’s delicate skin.
But if you’re buying biodegradable diapers because you hate the idea of tossing so much plastic into the landfill, there’s something you should know: Biodegradable diapers do not biodegrade in a landfill and will only decompose if they are composted.
Biodegradable diapers are still the preferred choice of disposables for both the baby and the environment, since they are not manufactured with petrochemicals or other eco-unfriendly materials or skin irritants. They are an even better choice if you can compost them.
You can compost at home or through an industrial composting facility, but a diaper service is by far the easiest and most convenient option.
How to compost biodegradable diapers at home
First, only compost wet diapers at home — no poop diapers — because home composters don’t get hot enough to kill pathogens.
Add the optimal mix of browns (i.e. dried leaves) and greens (i.e. cut grass, vegetarian kitchen waste) to your composter for your climate and turn the compost every 2-3 weeks to oxygenate the pile.
Use a compost tumbler or open-air pile, which can break down biodegradable diapers in roughly 12 months. Or use a hot composting bin to accelerate the process. Do not use worm bins, because the worms won’t be able to handle the large volume of dirty diapers your baby generates.
You can then use the finished compost for grass, shrubs, flowers and other non-edible plants. Never use home-composted diapers for food gardens.
Make use of an industrial facility
Industrial compost facilities can reach high enough temperatures to break down diapers and kill any pathogens. Some cities accept biodegradable diapers in the compost bin, but most do not. You’ll need to call your municipal waste program to find out.
If you can’t use the city’s green bin, you may be able to find a local compost facility through www.findacomposter.com just by entering your city or zip code.
Subscribe to a diaper service
Compostable diaper services are by far the most convenient way to go. The service picks up your dirty diapers and brings them to an industrial composting facility for you.
When they pick up your dirty diaper bag, they also refresh your stock of clean diapers, wipes and accessories. Plus, their diaper sizes grow with your baby and you can exchange any unopened diapers for the new size, if needed.
Many compostable services offer cloth diaper deliveries as well, which is extra-convenient for parents who do both.
Good to know
- A landfill is not a composting facility, so it does not generate the heat and microbes needed to break down biodegradable diapers and wipes.
- Home composters don’t get hot enough to kill bacteria, so only compost wet diapers at home – no poop diapers. Also, only use the compost for non-food plants.