Debunking Common Myths About Biodegradable Nappies
In recent years, the world has slowly started becoming more eco-conscious. This change is particularly prevalent in the world of parenting. Sustainability is becoming a primary concern for many families and with this, the use of biodegradable nappies has become more popular. The reason for this was that a biodegradable nappy would function as a regular nappy but without the lasting damage, it could inflict on the planet.
You might think that that disposable nappies cannot pose that big of a risk to the environment but that is where you would be wrong. Conventional nappies are made of plastics and synthetic materials that make it so that it takes millions of years to break down and decompose. In contrast, a biodegradable nappy would not take that long since the materials used are designed for it to be broken down naturally in a significantly shorter period of time.
However, using the word “biodegradable” has caused a lot of misconceptions to grow. One of the more common ones is that these nappies function just as other plants do and break down just as easily. In fact, a lot of consumers expect to be able to throw out these nappies and have them decompose in their backyards. As much as we would love for biodegradable nappies to function that way, the reality is very different.
A nappy has to be collected and broken down into its individual parts before being taken to different facilities for composting. That means scaping out the poop, disassembling the diaper and then shipping each component to a different facility. So, it is quite clear that biodegradable nappies do not function the way that it is thought to.
The reason for the extent of misinformation being spread is that a lot of companies are not entirely transparent with the way their nappies work. Little and Brave are not like that so in this blog, we will take a look at the more common myths and whether or not they are true. In case they are false, we will also talk about the truth behind it. So, come on as we bust some myths!
For a product to be biodegradable it needs to be made only from plants and trees. This includes the making of biodegradable nappies.
Biodegradability is not a property that is limited to resources like plants and trees. In fact, there are other materials that can be classified as biodegradable. For example, there are some non-renewable petrochemical-based plastics that can decompose just as well as plants and trees can.
The main point of using biodegradable materials is that they will not harm the environment by refusing to decompose and return to the harmless elements that they were made of. This does not mean that the material has to be plant-based.
The reason this is being addressed is because you will see the phrase “plant-based” being thrown around a lot without actually having any backup for it. This leads to the image of a plant-based nappy which is not the most structurally sound of nappies. So it is important to understand that just because something is biodegradable doesn’t mean that it is plant-based.
All materials that are made of plants are biodegradable.
Now when plants are used to make other materials, their structure changes fundamentally. This means that if a plant has been used to make something like packaging material or even parts of a nappy, it does not guarantee that the material will automatically decompose if you put it in the ground.
An example of this would be bio polyethylene. This is a polymer that comes from sugarcane and beets. After all the processing is done, this material is more similar to plastic than it is to plants. The material is not biodegradable despite having been derived from plants.
Since a nappy has advertised itself as biodegradable, people should be able to throw it out into the ground and it will automatically decompose like a fruit would. In fact, it would actually help the soil become more rich since it is made from biodegradable materials.
A bio-based plastic material does not decompose in every type of environment. Different types will decompose in different environments. This is because the decomposability of environments varies depending on various factors.
So, for us to confirm which materials decompose the best in which environment, experiments were conducted which resulted in the confirmation of testing methods and certifications. This in turn explains what was mentioned in the introduction.
A nappy is taken apart into individual components and depending on the material used is sent to various facilities for decomposing. This is why it is not possible for a nappy to just be thrown away into the ground and for it to decompose as is.
An example of this is PLA (plant-based polylactic acid). This material is made of cornstarch or sugar cane. One would expect that this material would be able to decompose if left in the ground. However, this material will only decompose in an industrial composting facility.
It is popularly believed that landfills are the best way to decompose a biodegradable nappy.
Landfills are one of the biggest sources of methane gas that is man-made. Why is that bad? That is because methane is a greenhouse gas that is terrible for the environment. When a material decomposes in the absence of air, it causes methane to form.
This is why one of the most important facts when it comes to a material’s biodegradability is the speed of it. If a material manages to decompose faster than the landfill is covered with a film, then the methane can escape into the atmosphere and cause harm. However, if a material manages to decompose more slowly, thus allowing the landfill to be covered, the methane gas can simply build up.
This gas is then captured and used for energy production or it can be turned into CO2.
This is also why only certain biodegradable materials are used in nappies. Materials like wood pulp take their time to decompose and it is quite slow. This is why it is used a lot in eco-nappies, including Little & Brave’s eco-nappies!
If a nappy has more biodegradable content, then it is the better choice. This is a very popular way of thinking and it is not very correct.
If a biodegradable nappy is not disposed of the way it was meant to, then we are harming the planet more than if we just used disposable nappies. Burning them, throwing them in landfills, or just out into nature will only cause more harm than good. A biodegradable nappy is only better than a disposable one if it is disposed of in the correct way.
This is why a lot of companies have their own compost collecting service, including Little & Brave. Always make sure to take a look at how compost is done in your own community as well.
Instead of looking for nappies with the most biodegradable content, people should be looking for nappies with the least non-biodegradable content. Just because a nappy has more biodegradable content doesn’t mean that the rest of it is harmless.
These are only some of the many many myths that are out there about biodegradable nappies. If we were to address all the myths then this blog would never end! This is why we strongly urge everyone to do their own research before believing anything that is said. And it is also why we strongly believe in transparency being the best policy!
We have explained what our eco-nappies are made of so all our customers can rest assured that they are not being kept in the dark. You can come on over to our site and take a look at some of our other blogs to learn more about how you can lead a sustainable lifestyle without sacrificing a lot. Visit Little & Brave today for all your eco-nappy needs!