You’re probably asking yourself the same question as you read this article. For example, who would waste a precious weekend in order to make hand-made disposable paper cups or toilet paper, when such products are mass-produced and consumed daily? I would not be in a hurry to take part in such a workshop either. But then why would all of us at DYCLE want to make 1300 disposable baby diaper inlays with our own hands?
At the moment DIY is the only option available to us. Unfortunately here is no other way. In the diaper industry you need to invest at least 3 to 6 million euros in order to start a new production system. In order to change to new materials or replace some elements with environmentally friendly options, diaper suppliers would have to undergo huge investment. This is the background to large scale industrial production of diapers as well as many other consumer products.
Does DYCLE want to become a big diaper supplier? No, this was never our intention. We hoped to find a product on the market or a supplier willing to manufacture a diaper that met our strict 100% biobased criteria. Over three years we contacted several diaper suppliers who had the potential to bring such a product to the market. If successful, DYCLE would be able to direct focus towards our operations with parents. However, we soon discovered that it is too difficult for established companies to bring innovative products to the market. All the suppliers we contacted refused to pursue our proposal.
“How can DYCLE start the diaper cycle without a 100% biobased diaper inlay?” This obstacle acted as a source of DYCLE’s frustration for a long time. Perhaps our solution could be to produce a small volume without using a mass production assembly? We concluded that this DIY method would have to be the starting point for DYCLE. Meanwhile we received requests from more than 20 countries from all over the world, wishing to implement our Diaper Cycle in their cities and local communities. Some of these countries have serious waste management problems, such as limitation of incineration plants, that our diaper cycle solution would directly address.
Who would invest in mass production of 100% biobased diapers in these countries? Surely they have even less chance than we do. It might be a better option to develop a simple production mechanism allowing communities throughout the world to self produce their own diaper inlays. This constitutes a decentralised system that could create local job opportunities.
Our next target is to collaborate with engineers in order to create low tech machinery for production of our 100% biobased and plastic free inlays. The mechanism should be adaptable across Africa, Asia and Europe. Given that we have access to different natural resources, the fibers we use may well be quite different from that which people in South Asia would use. The individual local communities should produce with the suitable raw fibers and renewable materials from their specific area. DYCLE Berlin have produced our first inlay with local materials. This summer, 10 early bird babies will trial our Berlin inlay, once used they will be transformed into Terra Preta soil substrate. Our wish is to find the best collaboration partner in order to begin engineering our desired low tech machinery.
It was not our intention to undergo this hand-made diaper inlay production on our own. However, we believe that this is the most effective way to set the wheels in motion. We will organise several workshops in coming weeks, so please join and help us take action. Whether you are able to come for the whole day, half a day or even a couple of hours. Any help is appreciated and it will help us to take our operations to the next level.
We appreciate your contribution!
Read more: Have you ever made a diaper by yourself?