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AALST - Ontex and circular economy company Les Alchimistes have announced a joint collaboration project to test the compostability of diaper pads.

The project requires cooperation between different partners: from suppliers of materials, diaper manufacturers like Ontex, to waste collection and to composting partners using suitable technology. As part of the project Ontex and Les Alchimistes have set up a pilot project at the latter's industrial composting site near Paris with the aim of proving that composting of Ontex diaper pads is possible, and that waste and incineration can be reduced.

The companies are also working Australian brand gDiapers, which was the world’s first Cradle to Cradle certified hybrid diaper which provides the best of cloth and disposable diapers. By separating the diaper into two parts, single use plastic is replaced with breathable and waterproof textiles, while the disposable insert can be composted.

Together with gDiapers, the Ontex Little Big Change brand has developed a new diaper system which consists of a reusable outer diaper made of cotton and a disposable diaper pad which is designed to be industrially compostable. "We are now testing if the diaper pads can be composted on an industrial scale by working together with a test group of 30 families in Paris who subscribe to Ontex’s baby diaper service Little Big Change,” explained Annick De Poorter, Executive Vice President R&D, Quality and Sustainability, Ontex.

"Our goal is to make the separate collection and composting of used, compostable diapers a reality,” said Maïwenn Mollet, director of the Fertile Diapers program at Les Alchimistes. “We are very happy that Ontex and their brand Little Big Change are joining our mission. Ontex has the engineering knowledge and resources to design diapers that can be compostable. Our goal is to create a new circular economy loop with Ontex and other like-minded companies and to compost 500 million diapers by 2030.”

The announcement of the industrial-scale composting test with Les Alchimistes follows the news of Ontex’s collaboration with Woosh, a Belgian start-up that is on a mission to recycle diaper waste into raw materials and, in doing so, create a large-scale solution for diaper recycling. Although Woosh takes a different approach to the one adopted by Les Alchimistes (focusing on recycling rather than composting) both projects fit with Ontex’s ambitions and sustainability strategy for 2030 to reduce diaper waste through different technologies.

“As a major player in essential personal hygiene, we recognize the need to find alternatives to landfill and incineration for our used products," De Poorter added. "We are examining ways to reduce CO2-emissions all through their different life cycle phases. As we ourselves move towards a circular economy business model, it is a natural and logical step to work together with other companies to make our diapers more recyclable or compostable. We support Les Alchimistes’ mission to learn how diapers can be composted and are eager to discover the results of the tests.”

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