WEENEES ECO PADS
* What are they made from?
Weenees Pads are very simple disposable pads, which is why they are so easy and economical to recycle through composting. They have a biodegradable cellulose based outercover (rayon), and inside for absorbency they have non-chlorine bleached fluff (paper) pulp from farmed trees and a super absorbing polymer (SAP).
* What don’t they have in them?
They don’t have any plastic, elastic, sticky tabs, perfumes or dyes, most of which are found in other ‘disposable’ nappies making them extremely difficult and expensive to ‘recycle', and perfumes can irritate some babies if they are sensitive to them.
* What is the gel inside the pads?
The gel you see inside the Weenees Pads is a super absorbing polymer. This is sometimes called ‘lock away cells’, ‘waterstoring granules’, ‘SAP’, ‘sodium polyacrylate’ or ‘acrylic polymer’. It is a long chain polymer which will soak up and hold large quantities of water¹.
* Why do you use SAP, isn’t it a chemical?
SAP significantly improves the absorbency of the pads and because it locks the moisture away it is more comfortable for your baby. A pad with no SAP would require much larger quantities of fluff pulp, making it a very bulky pad while still not providing the ‘stay dry’ properties.
Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about SAP and generally there is a very negative inference to the word ‘chemical’. SAP would have to be one of the most tested materials available in the sanitary industry. It has been found to be non-toxic, non-gene altering and non-irritating in the 100’s of tests done and has now been widely used in sanitary products for several decades, with a marked improvement in babies skin since its introduction to disposable nappies².
A simple chemistry lesson will explain: We are all made up of chemicals, so not all chemicals are harmful. Some chemicals can be extremely toxic to us but are also essential to our make up e.g. common table salt (or sodium chloride) is essential to us, however if a baby swallows a small teaspoonful, this could be fatal. SAP on the other hand while not essential, is non-toxic even if an entire pad is consumed (which is not physically possible).
* What about Weenees Pads and the environment?
Weenees pads provide a positive contribution towards compost. The biodegradable outer cover and inner fluff pulp provide organic matter while the SAP provides the ‘water storing granules’. You will find SAP in the more expensive potting mixes at your local plant nursery¹, so by adding Weenees pads to your home compost (or worm farm) you are adding your own free supply of ‘water storing granules’. Your baby’s urine (or Urea, yet another ‘chemical’) provides Nitrogen, an essential element for growing plants.
If you are not interested in home composting, then alternatives are commercial composting, worm farming or through the sewage system where Weenees pads become part of the bio-solids which are often then composted into soil conditioners for use in the agricultural industry. All methods of ‘recycling’ Weenees pads are practical and economical. Weenees pads are the only nappy in the world which will compost completely in one compost cycle³.
WHAT IS COMPOSTABLE? - Although expressions like "biodegradation", "biodegradable materials", "compostable" and the like are very common nowadays, they are often used incorrectly and may lead to misunderstandings. The European EN 13432 standard solves this problem by defining the characteristics a material must have for it to be "compostable", in other words, be recycled using this special form of treatment. A definition of the criteria for composting is important because materials that cannot be composted (traditional plastics, glass, materials containing heavy metals etc) will have a negative impact on the final quality of the compost and make it unusable in agriculture and thus economically worthless. This standard is a reference point for manufacturers, public authorities, composting operations and consumers. As of Novermber 2006 Australia finally has a similar standard in place AS 4736-2006 : Biodegradable plastics - Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment. According to EN 13432 the following conditions apply for materials to be compostable:-
" Biodegradation, i.e. the metabolic conversion of the material to carbon dioxide
" Disintegration, i.e. breaking up and disappearing into the final compost (absence of visible contamination)
" The material shall not have any deleterious impact on the composting process
" Low occurrences of heavy metals (under specified maximum levels) and the absence of deleterious impacts on the final compost (such as the reduction in its agricultural value and eco-toxicological effect on plant growth)
Each of these points is necessary for defining whether a material is compostable, but one point alone is not sufficient for claiming that the product is compostable.
The Commission Decision may be found in the Official Journal of the European Communities L 190 12/072001 P. 0021-0023
The Australian Standard can be purchased from here http://www.saiglobal.com/shop/script/Details.asp?DocN=AS0733778445AT
Note both polyethylene and polypropylene are non-compostable plastics. All other disposable nappies are made using these plastic materials, including the so called eco disposables, making them not suitable for composting as they will contaminate the final compost with visible bits of plastic and make it unusable in agriculture and thus economically worthless.
¹Allied Colloids - Technical and Processing Data, Salsorb 90 Superabsorbent Polymer for use in Baby Diapers and Personal Care. Yates - Waterwise Water Storing Crystals data sheet
² Contemporary Pediatrics – Supplement to March 2000 : Disposable diapers – Effective and safe Click here for the report
³ Report by Dr Martin Line: Senior Lecturer in agricultural Microbiology, University of Tasmania Click here for the report