JAPAN INNOVATION

Recycled Disposable Diapers

Would you use them?

Edward Thomas
ILLUMINATION
Published in
2 min readMay 16, 2024

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Unicharm Corp., a major Japanese hygiene products manufacturer, has recently begun marketing a new product with an eco-twist: the world’s first “horizontally recycled” disposable diapers.

Picture this: Stinky soiled disposable diapers are fed into one end of the process and new diapers come out the other end.

In between, the used diapers are shredded and washed. Next, their various materials are separated by type and then zapped with ozone to reduce bacteria and odor.

The cleaned materials are then used to manufacture new diapers.

A packet of 42 diapers for babies puts you back around 1,078 yen ($7), which is slightly higher than a pack of new disposable diapers.

Rows of disposable diapers in a supermarket
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The ick factor

Unicharm swears by its washing and ozone-zapping process, but will people be comfortable with the thought of swaddling their little bundles of joy in diapers that have been previously befouled by some stranger?

Cloth diapers are cheaper

Probably the best way to avoid the environmental pollution problems of disposable diapers…

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Edward Thomas
ILLUMINATION

Chicago | Japan since 1969 | Japanese>English translator, editor | Teaches English at Japanese University. | Buy me a ko-fi @ ko-fi.com/edwardthomas