Japan is awash in used diapers and the problem is only going to get worse as time goes by. No, the island nation is not in the grips of a baby boom - though the government wishes that were the case. Instead, the diaper dilemma is a by-product of Japan's rapidly aging population.
According to Japan's National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the number of senior citizens (aged 65+) is expected to reach 28 million this year, which works out to 22.5 percent of the total population.
What does that mean? Well, the Japan Hygiene Products Industry Association reports that diaper output totaled 12.8 billion last year, up 1.4 percent over 2008. Just over 5 billion were adult diapers. Since 2008 the number of adult diapers produced rose 6.9 percent while output of baby diapers decreased 1.9 percent.
A number of Japanese companies have noted this trend and have come up with a variety of ways used diapers can be utilized. Some ideas, such as Total Care System Co.'s scheme to turn used adult diapers into construction material, obviously need work. Then there's Super Faiths Inc., who have designed a machine that processes used diapers into solid fuel!
The SFD Recycle System, as Super Faiths calls it, first dries, crushes and sterilizes used diapers, then processes the residue into bacteria-free pellets. In just one day, smelly used diapers are converted into fuel ideal for use in stoves and biomass boilers.
A hospital in Tokyo's Machida ward is the first to have installed Super Faith's SFD Recycle System. According to Super Faiths, the system allows hospitals to "stop emission of unnecessary CO2, extricate hospital infection, reduce working costs and labor load, and (establish) long-lasting use of combustion furnace." Widespread use of the SFD Recycle System could also substantially ease the load on Japan's network of waste-disposal landfills, a serious consideration in a mountainous land with few adequate landfill sites. (via Mainichi Daily News)