Biodegradation & Composting

Composting Diapers in France

We knew about composting plants and food. Here is a new kind of composting. 3.5 billion baby diapers are thrown away every year in France, mountains of non-recyclable waste.

A young start-up is experimenting with crèches.

The crèche rue Bleue, in the ninth arrondissement of Paris, is one of ten crèches participating in the “Les Couches fertiles” experiment.

The director Séverine Fonteneau was quickly convinced by this project which is experimenting with composting because the diapers represent the bulk of her waste: ” Immediately it seemed obvious, on one day there was about 150 diapers used. Make the calculation over a month “.

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Especially since the experiment did not require major changes in the way of working within the crèche since the staff is already used to throwing used diapers apart, in special bins for odor and hygiene.

Used diaper bins are collected three times a week

Three times a week, the diaper are collected before being transported a few kilometers away, on Île Saint-Denis (In Seine-Saint-Denis), where the Alchemists have installed a composting site.

This start-up specializing in micro-industrial short circuit composting launched this baby diaper development project three years ago, because Maïwen Mollet, head of the “Fertile Diapers” project, was startled by a statistic: in France, we throw 3.5 billion baby diapers a year.

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“We don’t know what to do with it so they go to incineration or landfill where they will take more than 400 years to degrade, explains Maïwen Mollet, so at the start our idea was to look for a solution. It happened quite naturally on composting because in a layer there is a lot of organic matter, the pee, the poop, the cellulose are biodegradable and can allow a return to the soil of the nutrients, which these same soils need “.

Three steps to compost

First step: the layers are conveyed by conveyor belt in a grinding machine. A prototype that will extract fecal matter and urine from the diaper and get rid of the plastic.

At the exit of the machine, the organic matter (called the pulp) is collected and ready to be composted.

The organic matter is mixed with food waste, in particular coffee and crushed wood, then placed in an electromechanical composter for 10 days.

Amandine Kemel, trainee, student at agroParisTech, school of engineers and agronomists, monitors the process: ” In this electromechanical composter, there is a blade which regularly returns the material to aerate it. Because the composting process uses a lot bacteria that need oxygen. ”

During this composting phase, the temperature rises to 70 ° C degrees.

Ensure there are no health risks

Today in France, the sale of this baby diaper compost is prohibited . The standard allows compost from food waste or green waste, but not human waste.

The reason is sanitary but Maïwen Mollet hopes that this regulatory barrier will soon be lifted: “It will be easier when we have completed our research project and that we will have all the answers that will reassure decision makers” .

The reassuring including the absence of health risk of pathogens (from human feces) that would be in nature.

For three years, the start-up has been working with technical institutes but also CNRS researchers to address these fears.

The start-up is betting that in the very near future, the baby diaper will be made from 100% compostable materials. Manufacturers including French work there.

 

REFS

Published on franceinter.fr

Le compostage des couches bébé désormais expérimenté en France

 

 

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