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Aiming to compost 500 million used diapers by 2030

The goal is to make the separate collection and composting of used, compostable diapers a reality.

23rd April 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Aalst, Belgium


Diaper manufacturer Ontex, headquartered in Aalst, Belgium and circular economy company Les Alchimistes have entered into a collaboration to test the compostability of diaper pads.

The two companies have set up a pilot project at Les Alchimistes’ industrial composting site near Paris with the aim of proving that the composting of Ontex diaper pads is possible, and that waste and incineration can be reduced.

The project requires cooperation between different partners, from suppliers of materials, diaper manufacturers like Ontex, to waste collection and to composting partners using suitable technology.

We recognise the need to find alternatives to landfill and incineration for our used products

“Our goal is to make the separate collection and composting of used, compostable diapers a reality”, said Maïwenn Mollet, director of the Fertile Diapers programme at Les Alchimistes. “We are very happy that Ontex, with its brand Little Big Change, is joining our mission. Ontex has the engineering knowledge and resources to design diapers that can be compostable. Our goal is to create a new circular economy loop with Ontex and other like-minded companies and to compost 500 million diapers by 2030.”

“Together with partner company gDiapers, which has 17 years of expertise in hybrid compostable diapers, the Ontex Little Big Change brand has developed a new diaper system,” added Annick De Poorter, executive vice president at Ontex. “It consists of a reusable outer diaper made of cotton and a disposable diaper pad which is designed to be industrially compostable. We are now testing to see if the diaper pads can be composted on an industrial scale by working together with a test group of 30 families in Paris who subscribe to the Ontex baby diaper service Little Big Change.”

In 2005, the founders of gDiapers, Kim and Jason Graham-Nye, launched the world’s first Cradle to Cradle certified hybrid diaper to provide the best of cloth and disposable diapers. By separating the diaper into two parts, single use plastic could be replaced with breathable and waterproof textiles, while the disposable insert could be composted. The company has subsequently expanded from the US into Canada, the UK, Germany, France, and Korea.

The announcement of the industrial-scale composting test with Les Alchimistes follows the news of the Ontex collaboration with Woosh, a Belgian start-up that is on a mission to recycle diaper waste into raw materials and, in doing so, create a large-scale solution for diaper recycling. Although Woosh takes a different approach to the one adopted by Les Alchimistes – focusing on recycling rather than composting) –both projects fit with Ontex ambitions to reduce diaper waste through different technologies.

“As a major player in essential personal hygiene, we recognise the need to find alternatives to landfill and incineration for our used products,” said De Poorter. “We are examining ways to reduce CO2-emissions all through their different life cycle phases. As we ourselves move towards a circular economy business model, it is a natural and logical step to work together with other companies to make our diapers more recyclable or compostable.”

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