Procter & Gamble applied for a patent that hints at introducing recyclable versions of absorbent products including diapers.
“The more materials to be separated in the absorbent article recycling operation, the more complex and expensive the recycling operation becomes,” Procter & Gamble’s patent application said. “The proliferation of regulations limiting landfill waste, along with rising costs, have made traditional disposal of waste in landfills less desirable.”
Instead, the patent application published in late June seeks to reduce the number of components in absorbent products as well as use more sustainable bio-based materials, simplifying the separation process and making single-use goods recycling more feasible.
“Given there may be a limited amount of petroleum in the world, it is prudent to create absorbent articles which are more readily recycled, are designed for simple recycling, or designed to be friendly in a recycling operation,” the patent application said. A spokesperson for P&G declined to comment on the application to Bloomberg reporter Olivia Rockeman.
P&G’s sustainability goals for 2030 include advancing recycling solutions for absorbent hygiene products.
“Who would’ve thought you could recycle used diapers? Invented by our joint venture Fater in Italy, we found out a way. The breakthrough technology recycles used absorbent hygiene products to create new products and materials of added value,” the company says. “Partnering with cities, waste operators, and other partners, we plan to have this recycling practice operational in 10 cities across the globe by 2030.”
As a diaper manufacturer with about 27% of the $44 billion diaper market, Procter & Gamble is looking to find solutions to the waste problem, Reuters reported last fall.
“Fater’s patented process starts with local waste management utility Contarina SpA, which collects used diapers and other AHP from curbside bins or large users like hospitals from more than 50 local towns, trucking them in to the 1,000-sq meter plant,” the Reuters journalists wrote. “After dry cleaning the diapers using contact steam and disposing of the human waste in waste water treatment plants, one ton of AHP waste can yield 150 kg of cellulose, 75 kg of absorbing material and 75 kg of mixed plastic.”