Are Bambo Nature nappies biodergradable?
Around 75% of a Bambo Nature nappy is biodegradable, compared to around 35% for a standard disposable.
Many consumers make the mistake of thinking that the biodegradability of a product is the most important factor in making a product environmentally friendly. While this is important, the reality is that the vast majority of nappies end up in landfill. Landfill is anaerobic (meaning that there is no light and air which is necessary to the decomposition process), so the nappies are going to break down very slowly. Indeed, archaeologists in London found a banana skin in a rubbish dump dated to 1460!
Any nappy that claims to be biodegradable is only biodegradable if it is composted, not if it is thrown into landfill. As with any claims to 'green' credentials, you should ensure that the manufacturers can actually prove that the nappy is biodegradable. Ask the manufacturer to show you the results of product tests carried out by independent bodies. The Nordic Swan Eco Label is an independent body that can show the results of tests carried out by independent laboratories.
This makes the environmental impact of the manufacturing process so important in considering the ‘cradle to grave’ eco footprint of the nappy you choose.
You can reduce the eco footprint of your Bambo Nature disposable nappy even further, by composting. By composting your nappy and removing the non-biodegradable parts, you will reduce the volume of waste going into landfill. Please note that you should only compost wet nappies in a home compost.
Bambo Nature nappies are recyclable by a specialist nappy recycler, such as My Planet in Melbourne (who services are, unfortunately, currently suspended) or at specialist plants such as the Global Renewables recycling plant in Eastern Creek, NSW, where the innovative UR-3R Process (Urban Resource – Reduction, Recovery and Recycling) is used.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Biodegradation is the process by which organic substances are broken down by the enzymes produced by living organisms. The term is often used in relation to ecology, waste management and environmental remediationbioremediation). Organic material can be degraded aerobically, with oxygen, or anaerobically, without oxygen. A term related to biodegradation is biomineralisation, in which organic matter is converted into minerals. (
Biodegradable matter is generally organic material such as plant and animal matter and other substances originating from living organisms, or artificial materials that are similar enough to plant and animal matter to be put to use by microorganisms.
Anaerobic biodegradation in landfill
Biodegradable waste in landfill degrades in the absence of oxygen through the process of anaerobic digestion. The byproducts of this anaerobic biodegradation are biogas and lignin and cellulose fibres which cannot be broken down by anaerobes (anaerobic microbes)
Engineered landfills are designed with liners to prevent toxic leachate seeping into the surrounding soil and groundwater. Paper and other materials that normally degrade in a few years degrade more slowly over longer periods of time. Biogascarbon dioxide. In modern landfills this biogas can be collected and used for power generation. contains methane which has approximately 21 times the global warming potential of
This is generally where disposable nappies end up, in anaerobic landfill.
Methods of measuring biodegradation
Biodegradation can be measured in a number of ways. The activity of aerobic microbes can be measured by the amount of oxygen they consume or the amount of carbon dioxide they produce. Biodegradation can be measured by anaerobic microbes and the amount of methane or alloy that they may be able to produce.
Biodegradable plastics made with plastarch material (PSM), and polylactide (PLA) will compost in an industrial compost facility. There are other plastic materials that claim biodegradability, but are more often (and possibly more accurately) described as 'degradable' or oxi-degradable; It is claimed that this process causes more rapid breakdown of the plastic materials into CO2 and H2O.
Indicative lengths of degradation
The following table should be read with the above comments in mind, and care should be taken before accepting claims of biodegradability in view of the (dubious) claims being made. This is how long it takes for some commonly used products to biodegrade: (from http://www.worldwise.com/biodegradable.html)
* Banana peel, 2 – 10 days
* Cotton rags, 1 – 5 months
* Sugarcane Pulp Products, 30 - 60 days
* Paper, 2 – 5 months
* Rope, 3 – 14 months
* Orange peels, 6 months
* Wool socks, 1 – 5 years
* Cigarette filters, 1 – 12 years
* Tetrapaks (plastic composite milk cartons), 5 years
* Plastic bags, 10 – 20 years
* Leather shoes, 25 – 40 years
* Nylon fabric, 30 – 40 years
* Plastic six-pack holder rings, 450 years
* Diapers and sanitary napkins 500 – 800 years
* Tin cans 50 - 100 years
* Aluminum cans 80 - 100 years
* Plastic Bottles Forever
* Styrofoam cup, non-biodegradeable