BAHP member companies have not just concerned themselves with disposal of diapers; they have also been lessening diapers’ environmental impact at the beginning of their life cycle. Through innovation in materials, design, and manufacturing, today’s disposable diaper weighs nearly 40% less than it did in the 1980s. These modern diapers perform better, use fewer raw materials, and generate less waste than ever before.
The most significant innovation has been the continued development of superabsorbent polymers. Compared to cloth diapers, these polymers allow disposables to deliver superior performance and improved skin health. They have also improved disposables’ environmental impact since manufacturers can significantly reduce diaper weight. The graph below reveals how improvements in superabsorbent polymers and other materials have led to weight decreases (Europe, similar in U.S.)in diapers. This means fewer resources are used to make diapers. (EDANA Sustainability Study, 2007)
On average, modern disposable diapers can weigh as little as 45 grams or 1.5 ounces, about the weight of an egg. Smaller diapers occupy less space and have allowed a significant reduction in packaging. Overall, the amount of packaging has been reduced by two-thirds since the 1980s. Reduced product and packaging volume also means fewer trucks are needed for transportation, thus decreasing fuel usage and emissions.