From disposable diapers to adhesives


Finding alternative fates for plastics that would otherwise end up in landfills requires innovative chemistry. Now, poly(acrylic acid) from diaper waste has been converted into valuable pressure-sensitive adhesives through an open-loop recycling method that is cost-effective and environmentally competitive.

Although it may seem like one of the more mundane aspects of personal care, a choice of diapers has profound implications on a person’s environmental footprint. In the United States, disposable diapers are elected for about 95% of young children1; each diaper is only used for a few hours, and a child will typically use more than 6,000 in their early years2. Reusable cloth alternatives do exist, but washing and sanitizing them can also have significant negative environmental impacts.


Borden, M.A., Leibfarth, F.A. From disposable diapers to adhesives. Nat. Chem. 13, 930–932 (2021).