RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment has developed a step-by-step plan for the safe reuse of diapers and incontinence material. This plan provides recyclers and licensing authorities with tools to carry out a risk assessment. The processing of the materials contributes to the reduction of household waste. In addition, new products and materials made from diapers and incontinence material can be used safely.
Every year, more than 160 million kilos of used diapers for babies and incontinence material for adults end up in waste in the Netherlands. In order to reduce the amount of diaper waste, materials can be recycled, and new products can be made. For example, plastic from diapers can be converted into plastic bottles for cleaning products.
Diapers and incontinence material contain pathogens and medicinal residues that people excrete through their urine and faeces. The diaper material itself contains plastics, cellulose and granules that absorb moisture. The new products and materials made from this material must be safe for people and the environment. Recyclers and licensing authorities can use RIVM’s step-by-step plan to collect the necessary data to perform the risk assessment. Licensing authorities can also look at other advantages and disadvantages, such as sustainability.
Two waste processors have tested the step-by-step plan to make it workable in practice. The step-by-step plan consists of a maximum of three steps, to gain insight into whether and which risks are involved. The producer remains responsible for the safety of his product.