Diaper Stork Awarded Grant for Composting Study, Compostable Diaper Delivery Service
by Melanie Carr, MS, Ecoengineer Consultant for Diaper Stork

We are excited to announce that Diaper Stork is developing a compostable diaper subscription service! The pilot program will be possible through a King County Solid Waste Division Re+ Circular Economy grant. This regional grant program shares our goals of preventing and reducing waste, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating new jobs in a green economy.

This additional funding enables Diaper Stork to take the next step in our ongoing search for a diaper composting process that doesn’t compromise on our standards for sustainability and equity. Beginning in early 2023, we will implement a yearlong study, including the new compostable diaper delivery service, to evaluate the benefits and feasibility of different diaper composting methods.

A core goal of our work at Diaper Stork is reducing the amount of landfill space taken up by disposable diapers. Because many families are interested in compostable diapers, we’ve taken a hard look at this option. For now, we think cloth diapers are still the best choice for eco-minded families (click here for the story on our blog), but we aren’t giving up on creating a convenient alternative that is local, sustainable, and equitable.

How Will the Program Work?
This new initiative will begin with eco-friendly diapers that are mostly biodegradable and are made of sustainable materials. Diaper Stork will collect the diapers and compost them in aerobic reactors for the pilot-scale project. Throughout the study, we will experiment with different compost ingredients, perform laboratory analyses on the safety of the finished products, and evaluate the operational feasibility of large-scale diaper composting.

More details on the new service will be coming soon!

Emphasizing Equity and Inclusivity

Diaper Stork wants the whole community to share in the benefis of innovations in waste reduction. We are developing plans to offer subsidized services to selected underserved communities. (If you have input about this process, please contact us at [email protected].) We are training our staff as part of King County’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, and we will hire an intern to foster professional development in the green economy.

How Will Diaper Stork’s Service Be Different from Other Compostable Diaper Subscriptions?

For now, Washington State lacks a facility to compost diaper waste (click here for the story on our blog). That means companies offering compostable diaper subscription services in our area have to work around this challenge, and unfortunately they introduce new environmental harms in the process.

One local company discontinued their cloth diaper service to provide a disposable diaper service using waste-to-energy. Waste-to-energy is either burning garbage at a very high temperature or harnessing methane from breaking down garbage, generating useable energy. The combustion in the waste-to-energy process has a larger carbon footprint than other energy sources, such as solar, hydroelectric, and wind—which is one reason this technology appears to be declining in use. Waste-to-energy is also not as climate-friendly as composting, which offers numerous greenhouse gas benefits. In today’s market, 100% of disposable diapers contain at least a small amount of plastic, and burning them releases toxic chemicals that are harmful to air quality.

Another diaper composting program, REDYPER, trucks or ships diapers from Seattle homes across the country to a distant composting facility. This option may divert diapers from the landfill, but transporting diaper waste across the country comes at another environmental cost.

We are honored that King County recognizes and supports Diaper Stork’s vision for a safe, local, and deeply sustainable diaper composting process that equally benefits families with children and the planet’s ecosystems and human communities. And we are excited to be taking this work into the next stage of practice and study! We will keep you updated about this initiative and what we are learning as we go.