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Q.Composting Regular Disposable Diapers

Zone 54665 | Annika added on February 5, 2022 | Answered

I read your post about composting diapers and have two questions: 1. regular diapers use sodium polyacrylate for soaking up moisture; is this something that can actually help the soil? I read it’s a polymer, does that mean it’s plastic? Does it decompose at all? 2. why would you not compost diapers with stool in them if you have the space to have them away from garden for example in a forest area? What are the risks regarding diseases?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on February 7, 2022

There are many organisms that consume sodium polyacrylate. Mostly bacteria. In fact, I have an experiment running.

I am testing Cyclocybe aegerita on sodium polyacrylate and polylactic acid blend. In six months, it has consumed about half of the jar, and has liquefied the solids into a soup of metabolites. I have a lab that I partner with, and when I send it off to be analyzed, I will get to see how much has been consumed, and the chemical composition of the metabolites present.

However, it is non-toxic, non-reactive, and quite harmless for the soil and wildlife.

The problem is human feces. When not composted with the correct microbes, it becomes 1. An extreme biohazard, as the microbes that make you sick will replicate unchecked (we consume meat). 2. Illegal, should that wastewater make it off of your property.

With a composting toilet, and the correct microbes, it is completely possible to compost diapers. This is not feasible for most people.

Now, what I use Sodium polyacrylate for-

When I go on longer trips, and need to keep my plants watered, they make the perfect solution. They usually get mixed into my soil (into the top few inches) or in my compost, or even in fresh soil before potting up!

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