an official journal of: published by:
an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Asiphile Khanyile - Discipline of Geography, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa - Cleansing and Solid Waste, Education and Waste Minimisation, Ethekwini Municipality, South Africa
  • Guy Cubitt Caws - Cleansing and Solid Waste - Education and Waste Minisation Section, Ethekwini Municipality, South Africa
  • S'phumelele Lucky Nkomo - Discipline of Geography, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Ntandoyenkosi Malusi Mkhize - Discipline of Chemical Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Released under CC BY-NC-ND

Copyright: © 2019 CISA Publisher


Disposable diapers have become a prominent feature of solid waste dumped in landfills. It is estimated that disposable diapers take anywhere between 300 to 500 years to decompose. Despite the associated environmental challenges, a plethora of studies show that disposable diapers have become a popular choice for parents when compared with cloth diapers. Disposable diapers are argued to be more convenient for parents because of their once-off use and super-absorbent ability, of which they are able to absorb 200-300 times the weight as compared to the cloth diapers. This study investigates thermal devolatilisation profiles of disposable diapers as well as their iso-conventional kinetic parameters, elemental and fractional composition. In this study, the two most dominant disposable diaper brands were sampled and analysed qualitatively and quantitatively. It was observed that the exterior fraction of both diapers showed a single peak devolatilisation at a temperature of around 500°C, while the interior fraction showed two distinctive devolatilisation peaks observed below 400°C and above 500°C. However, the pyrolysis heating rate produced no effect on the pyro-char fraction. Furthermore, the devolatilisation pathways of different types of disposable diaper fractions showed that there is a potential for conducting stepwise pyrolysis to promote fractional recovery of valuable products. Disposable diapers waste conversion can be better handled by separating the outer fraction (mainly fossil-based plastics and rubbery materials) from the inner fraction (mainly bio-based fibers and absorbents). It is further illustrated that the kinetic parameters, Ea and k0 are different for each disposable diaper fraction.


Editorial History

  • Received: 19 Jul 2019
  • Revised: 04 Oct 2019
  • Accepted: 23 Oct 2019
  • Available online: 29 Jan 2020


Aboulkas, E., El Harfi, K., & El Bouadili, A. (2010). Thermal degradation behaviour of polyethylene and polypropylene. Part 1: Pyrolysis kinetics and mechanism. Energy Conversion and Management, 51:1363-1369

Achankeng, E. (2003). Globalization, urbanization and municipal solid waste management in Africa. In Proceedings of the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific 26th Annual Conference (pp. 1-22), Adelaide, Australia. Retrieved from: Urbanization_MSWMgmt_Africa.pdf

Apaydin-Varol, E., Polat, S., & Putun, A. E. (2014). Pyrolysis Kinetics and Thermal Decomposition Behaviour of Polycarbonate - a TGA-FTIR study. Thermal Science, 18 (3): 833-842

Arenas, C.N., Navarro, M .V., & Martínez, J .D. (2019). Pyrolysis kinetics of biomass wastes using isoconversional methods and the distributed activation energy model. Bioresource Technology, 288: 1-11

ASTM E1131-08. (2008). Standard Test Method for Compositional Analysis by Thermogravimetry. ASTM International, Pennsylvania, United States

Badgie, D., Samah, M. A. A., Manaf, L. A., & Muda, A. B. (2012). Assessment of Municipal Solid Waste Composition in Malaysia: Management, Practice, and Challenges. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 21 (3): 539-547

Budyk, Y. & Fullana, A. (2019). Hydrothermal carbonization of disposable diapers. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 7: 1-7

Chhabra, V., Shastri, Y., & Bhattacharya, S. (2016). Kinetics of Pyrolysis of Mixed Municipal Solid Waste-A Review. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 35: 513 – 527

Colon, J., Ruggieri, J., Gonzalez, A., Puig, I., & Sanchez, A. (2011). Possibilities of composting diapers with municipal solid waste. Waste Management and Research, 29 (3): 249- 259

David, V.E., Wenchaoa, J., Johna, Y., & Mmerekib, D. (2019). Solid Waste Management in Monrovia, Liberia: Implications for Sustainable Development. The Journal of Solid Waste Technology and Management, 45 (1):102-110

Hamad, T.A., Agll. A.A., Hamad, Y.M., & Sheffield, J.W. (2014). Solid waste as renewable energy resource: current and future possibility in Libya. Caste Studies in Thermal Engineering, 4:144-152

Heydari, M., Rahman, M., & Gupta, R. (2015). Kinetic Study and Thermal Decomposition Behavior of Lignite Coal. International Journal of Chemical Engineering, 2015: 1-9

Hicks, B. J. (2007). Lean information management: Understanding and eliminating waste. International Journal of Information Management, 27 (4): 233-249

Hristovski, K., Olson, L., Hild, N., Peterson, D., & Burge, S. (2007). The municipal solid waste system and solid waste characterization at the municipality of Veles, Macedonia. Waste Management, 27(11):1680-1689

Idowu, I. A., Atherton, W., Hashim, K., Kot, P., Alkhaddar, R., Alo, B. I., & Shaw, A. (2019). An analysis of the status of landfill classification systems in developing countries: Sub Saharan Africa landfill experiences. Waste Management, 87:761-771

Kazuva, E. & Zhang, J. (2019). Analysing Municipal Solid Waste Treatment Scenarios in Rapidly Urbanizing Cities in Developing Countries: The Case of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16 (11): 20-35

Khoo, S.C., Phang, X.Y., Ng, C .M., Lim, K. L., Lam, S .S., & Ma. N, L. (2019). Recent technologies for treatment and recycling of used disposable baby diapers. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 123:116-129

Krafchik, B. (2016). History of diapers and diapering. International Journal of Dermatology, 55: 4-6

Kyere, R., Addaney, M., & Akudugu, J. A. (2019). Decentralization & Solid Waste Management in Urbanizing Ghana: Moving beyond the Status Quo. In Municipal Solid Waste Management.
DOI 10.5772/intechopen.81894

Liang, L., Sun, R., Fei, J., Wu, S., Liu, X., Dai, K., & Yao, N. (2008). Experimental study on effects of moisture content on combustion characteristics of simulated municipal solid wastes in a fixed bed. Bioresoure Technology, 99 (15): 7238-7246

Marshall, R.E. & Farahbakhsh, K. (2013). Systems approaches to integrated solid waste management in developing countries. Waste Management, 33 (4): 988-1003

McKay, G. (2002). Dioxin characterisation, formation and minimisation during municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration. Chemical Engineering Journal, 86 (3): 343-368

Mendoza, J. M. F., D’Aponte, F., Gualtieri, D., & Azapagic, A. (2019). Disposable baby diapers: Life cycle costs, eco-efficiency and circular economy. Journal of Cleaner Production, 211: 455-467

Mihajlović, M. A., Pešić, R. V., & Jovanović, M. B. (2019). Framework of new landfill GHG policy in developing countries: Case study of Serbia. Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology, 9 (2): 152-159

Moore, L. (2019). Ambitions for Greening Solid Waste Management: Perspectives from Urban (ising) Africa. Retrieved from:

Oelofse, S. & Nahman, A. (2019). Waste as a resource: opportunities in Africa. ReSource, 21 (2): 23-27

Perera, K.U.C. & Narayana, M. (2018). Kissinger method: the sequential approach and DAEM for kinetic study of rubber and gliricidia wood. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 46 (2):187-196

Pham, N.T. & Brown, E.W. (2009). Diapers and the environment. NEARTA. Retrieved from:

Remigios, M. V. (2014). The environmental health implications of the use and disposal of disposable child diapers in Senga/Nehosho suburb in Gweru City, Zimbabwe. Global Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Health Sciences, 3 (2):122-127

Sharifzadeh, M., Sadeqzadeh, M., Guo, M., Borhani,T. N., Konda, N.V.S.N.M.,Garcia, M.C., Wang, L., Hallet, J., & Shah, N. (2019). The multi-scale challenges of biomass fast pyrolysis and bio-oil upgrading: Review of the state of art and future research directions. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science, 71: 1-80

Sheila, S.P. (2016). Soiled diapers stuck in landfills. Star. Retrieved from :

Smyth, D. P., Fredeen, A. L., & Booth, A. L. (2010). Reducing solid waste in higher education: The first step towards ‘greening’a university campus. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 54 (11):1007-1016

Sun, X., Li, J., Zhao, X., Zhu, B., & Zhang, G. ( 2016). A review on the management of municipal solid waste fly ash in American. Procedia Environmental Science, 31: 535–540

Topanou, N., Domeizel, M., Fatombi, J., Josse, R. G., & Aminou, T. (2011). Characterization of household solid waste in the town of Abomey-Calavi in Benin. Journal of Environmental Protection, 2 (06): 692-699

UNTHA UK. (2015). The industry heavyweights: Waste hierarchy vs Circular economy. Retrieved from:

Williams, P. T. (2005). Waste Treatment and Disposal. 2nd Edition. Chichester ,West Sussex, England, John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Wolston, C. 2015. What’s in Disposable Diapers- and Are They Safe for Your Baby? Retrieved from:

Zoeteman, B. C., Krikke, H. R., & Venselaar, J. (2010). Handling WEEE waste flows: on the effectiveness of producer responsibility in a globalizing world. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 47(5-8):415-436

Zurbrugg, C. (2002). Urban solid waste management in low-income countries of Asia: How to cope with the garbage crisis. Presented for: Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) Urban Solid Waste Management Review Session, pp.1-13, Durban, South Africa