‘Horizontally’ recycled nappies go on sale in Japan in world first

<span>The recycled nappies have been used in hospitals and nursing care facilities in Japan’s Kagoshima region since they were developed in 2022.</span><span>Photograph: sot/Getty Images</span>
The recycled nappies have been used in hospitals and nursing care facilities in Japan’s Kagoshima region since they were developed in 2022.Photograph: sot/Getty Images

A company in Japan has started selling the world’s first “horizontally” recycled nappies, as the country’s ageing society undergoes a shift in demand for children’s diapers to those for older adults.

Unicharm, based in the south-western prefecture of Kagoshima, put the adult and baby nappies on sale this month in shopping centres in Kyushu – one of Japan’s four main islands – in collaboration with local governments, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported.

They are described as “horizontal” because the reproduced items are the same as those they were recycled from, as opposed to being turned into different products.

Unicharm said it has used sterilisation, bleaching, and deodorising technology involving ozone to ensure that the recycled nappies were free from unpleasant smells and bacteria.

Tsutomu Kido, a senior executive officer at Unicharm said: “We have received approval from experts concerning hygiene,” according to the Mainichi newspaper.

The recycled nappies have been used in hospitals and nursing care facilities in Kagoshima since they were developed in 2022.

The range now on general sale includes those for children, which cost slightly more than regular disposable nappies, according to Unicharm.

“Customers who have used these products said they were comfortable and felt no different from regular [diapers],” it said in a statement.

While Japan’s demographics have triggered plummeting demand for children’s nappies, sales of those for older people are expected to continue rising.

Last month Oji Holdings, a manufacturer of paper products, said it would stop making children’s nappies later this year amid a sharp decline in demand, and instead boost production of sanitary products for older people.