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. Let’s talk about each of these three options.
In this article
- How to compost biodegradable diapers at home
- Some cities allow you to composting diapers — most don’t
- Subscribe to a diaper service
How to compost biodegradable diapers at home
You can compost diapers yourself, but there are a few things you’ll need to know.
First, only compost pee-filled diapers (not poop-filled diapers), because home composters don’t get hot enough to kill pathogens. That means you won’t be able to use the compost in your flower garden after it breaks down… and you definitely wouldn’t want to use it in your food garden.
To make sure the (pee) diapers break down effectively, be sure to add a mix of browns (e.g., dried leaves) and greens (e.g., fresh-cut grass and fruit & vegetable kitchen waste) to your composter. Also, be sure to turn the compost every 2-3 weeks to oxygenate the pile.
You can then use the finished compost for grass, shrubs, flowers and other non-edible plants. Again, never use home-composted diapers in food gardens.
How long does it take for a compostable diaper to break down?
The length of time it takes to break down a biodegradable diaper depends on the type of composter you’re using.
- If you’re using a compost tumbler or a simple open-air pile, the diapers will compost in roughly 12 months.
- A hot composting bin will accelerate the process by a few months.
Do not use worm bins, because the worms won’t be able to handle the large volume of dirty diapers your baby generates.
Some cities allow you to composting diapers — most don’t
The industrial composters at your city or town’s facilities can reach high enough temperatures to break down diapers and kill any pathogens. (This includes both pee diapers and poop diapers.)
The thing is, 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. Easy peezy!
Because it’s a subscription service, they also refresh your stock of clean diapers, wipes, and accessories when they pick up your dirty diaper bag. Plus, their diaper sizes grow with your baby and you can exchange any unopened diapers for the new size, if needed.
While these diaper subscription services are great for disposable diapers, most offer cloth diaper deliveries as well. This is extra-convenient for parents who do both.
Good to know
- A landfill is different from a composting facility. A landfill does not generate the heat and microbes needed to break down biodegradable diapers and wipes — so you have to make use of the composting facility if you want your diapers to actually break down.
- Just to reiterate, home composters do not get hot enough to kill bacteria. Therefore, you should only compost wet diapers at home – no poop diapers. Also, only use the compost for non-food plants.