When I tell people Iâ€™m in the plastic recycling industry, they often think I collect water bottles for a living. While this is somewhat the case, there is more to plastic recycling than just water bottles. In 2006, a relative of mine came to me with about 100 monthly tons of diaper cut-outs and asked if I could â€œget rid of itâ€.
Diapers are made from non-woven fabric (making diapers water-resistant) composed usually of either PP (polypropylene) or a mixture of PP and PE (polyethylene). Often times, there is PET and chemical bonding agents in the mixture making the diaper scrap difficult to recycle. If you’re a trader, be extremely careful when dealing with diaper scrap.
Diaper scrap, often referred to as diaper cut-outs, usually come directly from diaper manufacturers themselves. Diaper scrap are the small pieces of non-woven fabric left over from diaper production. As the diaper factories can no longer utilize the cut-outs, they are baled and sold to recyclers like me for processing.
My relativeâ€™s batch of diaper cut-outs came directly from a well-known brand that guaranteed stability in supply and quality. After getting the sample, I did the standard burn test with my trusted jet lighter. It burned like PP and smelled like PP. Just to be sure, I ran a lab test where the results can be shown to future customers.
As PP is one of the most used types of plastic, it wasnâ€™t difficult finding a buyer. A good friend of mine, Eric operates a large luggage factory and is always in search of PP and ABS. I knew he would be more than interested in this.
Diaper scrap in its original form, non-woven fabric, cannot be used for manufacturing. It must first be melted down and processed into plastic pellets. The recycled pellets are then mixed with virgin plastic resin to produce the final product. After showing Eric the plastic composite report, I mailed him a 5 KG sample to test. To this day, I ship him a monthly supply of diaper cut-outs that are eventually down-cycled into luggage cases.
Looking to buy or sell? I’m always interested in additional sources of diaper scrap and or other plastic scrap. Shoot me an email at andrew[@]recycledplastic.com (remove the brackets).