What happens when you throw away your baby's used diapers in Singapore

What happens when you throw away your baby's used diapers in Singapore

Have you ever wondered what becomes of your disposable diaper once it's thrown into the bin? In this blog, we'll take you through the journey of household waste in Singapore, from the moment it's discarded to the complex process of sorting, treatment, and final disposal. Let's discover how waste is managed in one of the cleanest countries in the world and what the future holds for Singapore's waste management system.


Step 1: Waste Collection


Each day, waste collection trucks gather about 6.6 million pounds of municipal solid waste from households. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA) in 2021, 42% of this waste is transported to one of Singapore's six active Waste-To-Energy Plants, where it is incinerated into ash. Meanwhile, 3% of the non-incinerated waste is sent to Singapore's only landfill, Semakau Landfill, for disposal. [1]


Step 2: Incineration Process


At the incineration plants, waste is transported to a waste bunker. Operators in the crane control room lift large quantities of the mixed waste and fill it into the incinerators, where temperatures can reach approximately 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat creates steam in boilers, which is then converted into electricity. The generated energy can supply power to around 240,000 households, while the ash left from the incineration process is collected for further disposal. [1]


Step 3: Environmental Consideration and Ash Disposal

The flue gas produced during the incineration process is purified using a catalytic fabric filter to eliminate particles. The resulting ash, after metals have been removed, comprises approximately 10% of the initial waste volume and is transported to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station before being taken to Semakau Landfill. Each day, about 4 million pounds of ash and non-incinerated waste are transferred and stored in cells for final disposal. [1]


Step 4: Semakau Landfill Operations


At Semakau Landfill, the incinerated ash and non-incinerable waste are deposited in cells for long-term storage. To ensure safety, the landfill's perimeter is lined with an impermeable membrane, which prevents leachate (a liquid that forms when water filters through waste) from contaminating the surrounding sea. Moreover, any water that collects inside the landfill is treated before it is released into the sea. [1]


Recycling and Future Solutions


Singapore aims to boost recycling rates to 70% by 2030 by focusing on consumer education and improving recycling processes. Given that 40% of items in recycling bins are unrecyclable due to contamination, achieving this target will require significant effort. The government is also investigating the possibility of recycling incinerated bottom ash into new materials, like those used in road construction, to ease the strain on landfills. As reported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) part of Semakau Landfill is already 90% full, with projections suggesting it will be filled by 2035. [1]


While waste-to-energy plants are a solution for high-density areas with limited space, critics warn that incineration can emit pollutants and offers only a short-term solution to waste management. Singapore's initiatives to increase recycling and repurpose incineration byproducts are part of a broader strategy to develop a more sustainable long-term approach to waste management. 


Due to the constraints at Semakau Landfill and the CO2 emissions from waste disposal, Cozycove is expediting its plan to recycle one diaper for every diaper we sell. As part of this plan, we are allocating funds from diaper sales to construct a diaper recycling facility in Singapore. Our long-term goal is to create a fully recyclable diaper and offer diaper recycling as a service.


To achieve our objectives, we need your help. Parents are key to driving this change, so we invite you to join us in creating a more sustainable future for our children. By choosing Cozycove and supporting our initiative, you contribute to building a cleaner, greener tomorrow. Together, let's work to speed up progress and make diaper recycling a common practice in Singapore.


[1] The Wall Street Journal. (2023, July 1). How Singapore Handles Six Million Pounds of Trash Daily [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nicf4RjU00
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