Composting Disposable Nappies


Karen and Karl Upston, parents to Jayden and Reagan, had owned a business selling both disposable and cloth nappies and regularly had the cloth vs disposable argument/debate raised with them often.

Many trials have been conducted in regards to this debate and the conclusion is that neither is any better or worse for the environment.

At the time, they had two children using disposable nappies full time, and were aware of how many nappies they were contributing to landfill each week. While they have always been very keen recyclers, they always felt the 'guilt' associated with using disposable nappies.  Over the years they used a selection of both cloth and disposable nappies, but as busy parents the convenience of disposable nappies was very strong.

They decided to trial composting disposable nappies on a commercial scale, and contacted HotRot Organic Solutions (NZ) Ltd, manufacturers of the HotRot range of in-vessel composting systems, for advice and guidance.  To their great delight, HotRot Organic Solutions (NZ) Ltd prototype composting unit was currently being stored in Auckland and they were offered the use of this technology for the trial.

The five month trial involved over 200 families, six pre schools, the local maternity hospital, elderly residents and a Christchurch Branch of the IHC.

Over the five months approximately 450,000 nappies were composted, which equated to 56 tonnes.

first NZ plant is located just north of Rangiora and services the Christchurch, Waimakariri, Hurunui and Kaikoura Districts. 


In June 2012 they will be opening our second NZ site in Wellington.  This site will service the Hutt Valley, Wellington and up the West coast to Porirua.

With the ability to compost around 60,000 nappies per day, they are able to reduce 3650 tonne of unnecessary organic waste entering local landfill each year......or in terms of nappies that would equate to 21.9 million nappies per year.

 The HotRot in-vessel composting system is a cost effective alternative to landfill, that also produces top quality compost.

Organic waste is a potential resource of both nutrients and organic matter that can be used to replenish soils under pressure from traditional agriculture.

Composting offers a method of biological stabilisation that eliminates odours and pathogens, and renders a product that is safe and pleasant to use.

Each HotRot in-vessels unit can process 2.5 tonnes per day , as it is a modular system, we have the infrastructure in place to run four of these units (processing around 60,000 nappies per day)

Nappies are mixed with green waste as a bulking agent.

Waste remains in the in-vessel unit for 16-18 days and is monitored daily to ensure that the required temperatures are met to kill all pathogens in order to meet NZ composting standards.

A device to separate out the plastic component of the nappy has been engineered into the composting plant. The plastic is screened after full composting has taken place.

Compost is then matured for 4-6 weeks prior to being used.


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