diapers

Diaper Facts and Statistics in 2021

It’s no secret that there is still a strong controversy over the use of disposable diapers. In order to share the impact that diapers can have, we have compiled a list of diaper facts and diaper statistics based on current studies available.

Diaper Facts and Statistics

Highlights of diaper statistics:

  • Disposable diapers are the third-largest single consumer item in landfills.
  • 92% of disposable diapers will ultimately get buried in landfills.
  • Disposable diapers are a $71 billion a year industry.
  • Disposable diapers take at least 500 years to decompose.
  • Disposable diapers for a single baby will cost around $70 a month and $840 a year.
  • Babies will use about 6000 diapers during their first two years of life.
  • 95% of mothers in the U.S solely use disposable diapers for their children.
  • 1 in 3 mothers cut back on basic essentials to afford diapers for their children.
  • Cotton diapers can be reused around 50 to 200 times.

Disposable diapers are the third-largest single consumer item in landfills.

Diapers environmental impact is noteworthy. Disposable diapers constitute about 4% of solid waste and are the third-largest single consumer item in landfills. It’s estimated that in an average household with children who wear diapers, disposable diapers make up to 50% of household waste. (1)

It’s also known that disposable diapers generate 60 times more solid waste and use 20 times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp. Manufacturing disposable diapers waste 2.3 times more water than cloth diapers. (1)

92% of disposable diapers will ultimately get buried in landfills.

It’s estimated that 3.6 million tonnes of disposable diaper waste will end up in landfills. (1) 99% of disposable diapers’ contents make their way to solid waste streams along with household and commercial trash. (2)

One of the main problems is untreated sewage and solid waste, which will create a potentially unhealthy situation and pose a potential health concern for sanitation workers. (2)

Unless there is a dramatic change in public policy or the direction of waste management services, most single-use diapers will continue to be landfilled or burned. (2)

Disposable diapers are a $71 billion a year industry.

During the last years, global disposable diaper production has increased exponentially. The global disposable diaper market is expected to exceed $71billion/year by 2022.

It’s no secret that about 20 billion pieces of used diapers will end up in landfills every year. This generates more than 3.5 million tonnes of diaper waste.

This resource-consuming production and used diaper waste have led to many environmental issues and pose a threat to public health.

Disposable diapers take at least 500 years to decompose.

While most cotton and wood products parts of disposable diapers can decompose readily within five months, the absorbent gels and plastic components do not. They need at least 500 years to decompose fully. (4)

Studies show that diapers in landfills take up to 500 years to degrade, creating methane and other toxic gasses in the process. Often, diaper manufacturers use volatile chemicals that also end up in the environment.

In addition, estimates indicate that up to 200,000 trees are lost each year to make disposable diapers for babies in the U.S. alone. (5)

Disposable diapers for a single baby will cost around $70 a month and $840 a year.

Babies will use about 6000 diapers during their first two years of life.

The diaper need for new parents is real, but the cost of diapers can be overwhelming. The average cost of a disposable diaper in the U.S. is $0.29. (6) An average baby uses 8 diapers per day (7) and about 6000 diapers (8) during their first two years of life. Two years is the average age of transition from diapers to toilet use. This will vary from child to child.

Mothers in the U.S. report spending on average $17 a week on diapers for their youngest child, with mothers in Canada reporting spending $16 in a given week. This equates to approximately 2 percent of American mothers’ total household income and 1 percent of Canadian mothers’ total household income. (9)

95% of mothers in the U.S solely use disposable diapers for their children.

Diaper usage statistics show that nearly all mothers in the U.S. (95%) and Canada (91%) report solely using disposable diapers for their children. These mothers are also looking for savings by purchasing products in bulk from supermarkets and warehouse stores. (9)

1 in 3 mothers cut back on basic essentials to afford diapers for their children.

One in three mothers is affected by diaper needs, regardless of age, race, or income. Mothers are making choices between diapers and other necessities when they can’t afford both. (9)

One in three mothers in the U.S. (36%) and nearly one in five in Canada (18%) report cutting back on basic essentials like food, utilities, or child care in order to afford enough diapers for their children. (9) These diaper need statistics show that families do need additional support.

Cotton diapers can be reused around 50 to 200 times.

One of the most interesting cloth diaper facts is that cotton diapers can be reused around 50 to 200 times before they will be recycled as rags. It’s estimated that nearly $300 million is spent annually to discard single-use diapers. (2)

For every consumer dollar spent on single-use diapers, an additional hidden cost of over $0.08 on average will be spent to pay for disposal. (2)

References

  1. J.R. Ajmeri, C.J. Ajmeri. 2016. Developments in the use of nonwovens for disposable hygiene products. Link
  2. C. Lehrburger. 1988. Diapers in the waste stream. A review of waste management and public policy issues. Link
  3. S.C. Khoo, X. Y. Phang, C. M. Ng, K. L. Lim, S. S. Lam, N. L. Ma. 2019. Recent technologies for treatment and recycling of used disposable baby diapers. Link
  4. J. Meseldzija, D. Poznanovic, R. Frank. 2013. Assessment of the different environmental impacts between reusable and disposable diapers. Link
  5. PRNewswire. 2016. Disposable diapers add millions of tons of waste to landfills each year, according to an EPA report. Link
  6. The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN). 2019. 2019 Annual survey of National Diaper Bank Network members. Link
  7. $17 (a week) / $0.29 = 58,6206897 / 7 days = 8,3 = ~ 8 diapers per day
  8. ~ 8 diapers per day * 365 days = 5840 = ~ 6000 diapers per year
  9. Dr. C. Raver, Dr. N. Letourneau, Dr. J. Scott, H. D’Agostino. 2010. Every little bottom study diaper needs in the U.S. and Canada. Link

FAQ

How long does it take a diaper to decompose?

It takes at least 500 years for disposable diapers in landfills to fully decompose.

What are disposable diapers made out of?

One of the less known disposable diaper facts is that disposable diapers are made of different components like wood pulp, plastics, tissue paper, polyester nonwoven fabric, adhesive, etc. (1)

When were disposable diapers made?

One of the most interesting facts about disposable diapers is that the first disposable diapers were made in 1948 by Johnson & Johnson. In 1961 Procter & Gamble unveils disposable Pampers.

Do diapers decompose?

Most cotton and wood products parts of disposable diapers can decompose readily within five months. The absorbent gels and plastic components need at least 500 years to decompose fully. (4)

How much waste do diapers produce?

Used disposable diapers constitute about 4% of solid waste and are the third-largest single consumer item in landfills. (1)

How many diapers per day?

An average baby uses about 8 diapers per day (7). This may vary from child to child.

How many diapers per week?

An average baby uses about 56 diapers per week. This may vary from child to child.

How many diapers per month?

An average baby uses about 240 diapers per month. This may vary from child to child.

How many diapers per year?

An average baby uses about 6000 diapers per month (8). This may vary from child to child.

What is the average cost of diapers?

The average cost of 1 diaper in the U.S. is $0.29. (6)

What is the weekly cost of diapers?

The average cost of diapers per week is $16.

What is the monthly cost of diapers?

The average cost of diapers per month is $70.

What is the annual cost of diapers?

The average cost of diapers annually is $840.

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