How Long Does It Take A Diaper To Decompose

How Long Does It Take A Diaper To Decompose

Diapers are amongst some of the worst in this list. They are not as bad as glass, but they certainly are bad. It takes disposable regular diapers up to five hundred years to decompose. If thrown out and left on a landfill, that is. This is horrible news for the environment. 

How Long Does It Take A Diaper To Decompose

Let’s take a look now at the time it takes for other materials to decompose, and their alternatives. 

We will go over here some of the worst offenders when it comes to decomposing. These are the materials that make up the bulk of our landfills everywhere in the world. They are the ones that need our immediate attention if we are to solve this problem.


Plastic is really bad for the environment. Not just because of the materials that it takes to produce it and the process of production. But also because it can take up to one thousand years to break down and return to earth. There are eco-friendly alternatives being developed and used, but this is one of the main offenders. We depend heavily on plastic, though. This is a big problem on the horizon.

Aluminum Cans

Aluminum cans are recyclable. That does not mean that they actually get recycled every time. There are tons of cans that go straight to landfills. If that is their final destination they can take anything between eighty to two hundred years to fully decompose. Better recycling efforts on the part of everyone involved in their use should suffice to fix this problem, though.


Glass is very easy to recycle. Since it is made of sand it only takes melting to reuse. If this is not done, though, the prospect if horrifying. If thrown into a landfill glass will take one million years to decompose. Some claim that it never does.

We can hope that a way to solve this problem will arise. Until then we should try to reduce the impact that we have on this matter.

Our awareness keeps increasing regarding the environment. We are becoming more and more aware of the impact our actions have on the planet. This comes in different forms and shapes. The bottom line is that we know that there are a lot of things that we should do differently if we expect to be able to continue to live in this world. We are going to take a hard look at diapers today, and try to find out what their impact is. Also, we will try to see if there is anything that can be done about them. Let’s begin.


This is the process by which a given item breaks down into its chemical building blocks. It goes back to the soil in this way to be repurposed by nature. It is the natural process by which nature reuses and recycles all things. Including ourselves. Everything goes back to nature eventually.

The problem is that given our industrial efforts we have come to develop and use materials that are not easily biodegradable. That means that they either take a very long time to be reabsorbed by the soil, or that they leave behind terrible poisons when they do it. Many times both of those. We are not just talking about nuclear waste here either. That is an extreme example that we can all understand quickly, but there are many materials to be found that are like this. Plastic is one such material, for instance.

Many of the things that we use in our daily lives are made of things that are very hard for nature to process. This means that they end up taking up space in landfills of the world, sitting for years until they are re-absorbed. This has been somewhat addressed recently with the appearance of biodegradable materials. That aims to provide an alternative to the worst materials for the environment. So we can continue to use these items in our daily lives without impacting the ecosystem in such a negative way. Most of the time biodegradable materials must be processed by a composting facility before they can return to nature. If they do, the time that it takes them to do so are much shorter than their not-eco-friendly counterparts.


Newborn babies use a lot of diapers. This invention is relatively new, but it has changed the lives of parents all around the world forever. It is hard to imagine a world where you have to take care of your child without them. They improve parent’s lives everywhere, but they come at a price. That price is two-fold. The first aspect is that they are expensive. You can spend thousands of dollars on diapers alone during the first years of your baby’s life. That will put a dent on many people’s economies. The other cost that we all pay is the environmental cost.

Diapers are convenient, but they have a terrible impact on the environment.

Disposable Diapers

It is estimated that more than two percent of the world’s landfills are made of used diapers. That is a lot. There are alternatives to regular one-use diapers. Those alternatives aren’t as readily available as the regular ones, though. That makes the diaper problem a very real and current one. 

According to the report of the Environmental protection agency, there are almost 20 billion disposable diapers that are dumped into landfills each year. In terms of weight, these diapers are contributing almost more than 3.5 million tons of waste. 

Consumption of natural resources

According to the Good Human website, just in the US, almost 200,000 trees each year are used for the manufacturing of disposable diapers for babies. It also requires 3.4 billion gallons of fuel oil per year for the manufacturing of disposable diapers. As compared to cloth diapers, disposable diapers require two times more water, 20 times more raw material, and three times more energy. Disposable diapers are not only consuming natural resources but non-renewable energy resources are also utilized for the manufacturing of disposable diapers. 



For decomposition, disposable diapers must be exposed to sunlight and oxygen. These diapers do not decompose well in landfills. Almost more than 500 years are required for disposable diapers to decompose. Millions of tons of untreated plastic waste in the shape of disposable diapers are added to landfills each year. This waste is contaminating groundwater. A major concern is the baby’s feces can leak and will be mixed into local water supplies. 

Landfills are the major source of greenhouse gas emissions that are resulting in climate change. The decomposition of disposable diapers results in the release of an excessive amount of methane into the air. A high concentration of methane gas can be flammable and explosive. Methane replaces oxygen so it can cause breathing problems. 


The decomposition of disposable diapers results in the release of volatile organic chemicals. These toxic chemicals include xylene, ethylbenzene, dipentene, and toluene. Long term exposure to these chemicals can bring adverse health effects. The inner absorbent layer of disposable diapers is made up of chemicals that can result in allergic reactions. In disposable diapers, there are dyes and dioxin. These products are achieved as a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process. Dioxin can cause cancer because it is a carcinogen. When these toxins are released to the environment they can easily accumulate in animals and humans. 

Sodium PolyAcrylate (SPA)

The major danger of disposable diapers is they contain Sodium Polyacrylate. Eco-friendly diapers also contain this chemical. This chemical is added to the inner pad that makes the disposable diapers super absorbent. When this powder gets wet it is converted into gel that can:

  • Easily stick to the baby’s skin and can cause allergic reactions
  • Result in skin irritation and your baby might suffer from vomiting and fever
  • Kill children even it is ingested just 5 grams

White small crystals you will find in private parts of your baby when you are changing a diaper. 

Poison Diapers

Disposable diapers contain lots of toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your baby as well. When you are using disposable diapers and wipes the outer skin of your baby may absorb about almost 50 different chemicals. That’s why disposable diapers are also called poison diapers. You can reduce this chemical exposure to the skin of babies by using natural baby products and cloth diapers. 

It is better to look for biodegradable diapers because these diapers are eco-friendly. Your baby might consume almost 7000 diapers before he/she is potty trained. The 3rd largest source of household waste is disposable diapers. You need to know a few things about biodegradable diapers and how they are good for the environment. 

Why should we use a biodegradable diaper?

The Eco-friendly and green world is expanding at a rapid pace which is a good sign for the parents. Now there are more choices for the parents than ever. So, you can easily pick which diaper is the best choice for you. So, there are certain reasons why we should use biodegradable diapers. 

  • Lack of chemicals
  • The main reason behind using biodegradable diapers is to avoid non-toxic chemicals and also to save the environment. Green diapers do not contain harmful chemicals. Green diapers are made of healthy materials, and they lack chemicals such as:

    • Perfume-free
    • Chlorine-free
    • Latex-free
    • Dye-free

  • Price
  • The price of eco-friendly diapers will be on the higher side as compared to those disposable diapers that contain lots of chemicals. Eco-friendly diapers are costly without any doubt but not too much costly that you have to donate your kidney to purchase diapers for your baby. Decide your budget and look for the options that you can easily afford. 

  • Function
  • What is the function of a disposable diaper? These diapers are designed to hold feces and urine. Find out which diaper is performing this function well. You can ask your friends and family members about which diaper is the best. You can also read the reviews that are left by the other parents. Find out the best diaper so that you don’t have to worry about overnight leakage. Look for the design of diapers. 

    All the diapers in the market are not 100% biodegradable. Some diapers are 75% biodegradable. Conventional disposable diapers are only 25 to 30% biodegradable. 


    Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest source of household waste. It is not easy to decompose these disposable diapers. Even after exposure to sunlight and oxygen, they might take more than 500 years to decompose. Disposable diapers are consuming natural resources. Disposable diapers when dumped into landfills they are polluting the groundwater. Disposable diapers cause rashes and other skin problems because of the presence of toxic chemicals. So it is better to use eco-friendly and green diapers that will save the environment and your baby’s skin from allergic reactions and rashes. You can also switch to cloth diapers this practice will also help to save the environment and money.  

    Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
    Sky Hoon
    Family Man. He is a family man and married with 1 child. Spent countless nights changing diaper and surprised how outdated diapers are. Nevertheless, there is no solution yet as a parent, just want to research more about diapers.
    Read His Personal Blog

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