A Law Against Putting Baby's Dirty Diaper in the Trash?


poop and diapersRecently, I was changing my daughter's diaper at my friend’s house, and she asked me, "Can you dump the poop in the toilet before putting the diaper in the pail?"

Sure, I said, and my friend explained that she was asking because she’d heard it was against federal regulations to put human waste in landfills -- but for some reason, nobody enforced this when it came to the poop found in diapers.

Oh good golly. Bad enough I'm using disposables in the first place -- am I doing even more damage by not taking this extra, easy-enough step?

Googling didn't tell me much; cloth-diaper and compostable-diaper sites made vague reference to this, but there was no official word. So, I called the authorities. Here’s what the EPA and the California Department of Resources had to say about human poop in landfills.

The EPA said, "Disposable diapers fall under the category of municipal solid waste, which means the material is safe to be disposed of in a U.S. municipal solid waste landfill." What’s more: "Modern landfills are well-engineered facilities that are located, designed, operated, and monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations, which aim to protect the environment from contaminants, which may be present in the solid waste stream."

Alrighty then. But I live in California, which sometimes has more stringent standards than the rest of the country. For example, my town has excellent recycling. We even have compost pick-up! So, I called the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to get a more local response.

Their spokesperson, Amy Norris, told me that, indeed, a landfill is a place for non-hazardous waste -- but "the contents of a diaper are considered solid waste, not hazardous or medical waste." Plus, since diaper bags are mixed in with a lot of other trash when it’s part of residential pickup, there’s "not a concentration of a huge amount of human waste at any time." (Amy Norris has clearly not seen my Diaper Genie.)

On the other hand, "It’ll make your diaper pail stink less if you do dump that in the toilet and flush it,” she pointed out. Six years after her youngest was potty-trained, Norris still has vivid memories of that particular aroma.

Good point. But chances are, I won’t be adding this extra step to my diaper-changing routine. If I were looking to lessen the amount of guilt I feel over using disposable diapers (and I do feel awfully guilty about it), I would go the extra mile. But if it’s just a question of protecting my nose, meh. I’m made of tougher stuff than baby poop.

Well, except when they don’t get enough water, but that’s another story.

Had you heard this poop-dumping rumor? Do you dump your baby’s poop before ditching the dipe?   

Image via misocrazy/Flickr

poop & diapers


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Rachel Schiller

I've seen disposable diaper packages advising that poop be dumped in the toilet. If it were solid enough that I could just shake it out I would but I'm not going to go out my way to clean a disposable diaper. I do with our cloth but on the disposables (we use disposable at night and when we are going to be out for longer then an hour or two).

nonmember avatar Anon

I had heard of it. But I always flushed my kids' poop either way. I would not have poop sitting around in my house (or garage), bagged or otherwise. That's foul - believe me, people smell it when they visit. I certainly wouldn't leave a turd in my friend's garbage can.

miche... micheledo

I was at my doctor's office and changing a VERY poopy diaper.  He made the comment that baby waste is not considered hazardous waste.  He told me, "However, if you had an accident in here, it would have to go in the hazardous waste can!"  LOL!  :D He didn't even understand why - but baby poop is OK!

magnu... magnus_pegasus

I have heard this, in fact, it is printed right there on the package of diapers that you should flush the solid waste.  I cloth diapers, but I sill do resort to a few 'sposies every month, and if one of them happends to be poopy, yes, I do flush the poop.

Noreen K Durrani

No. Just wrap it up into a little compact ball, stuff it in the genie and never think of it again.

Lynette Lynette

it's printed on the disposable diaper packaging

RanaA... RanaAurora

It is printed on all diaper packages, though frankly, I never did it. But yes, it is better if you can to not put human waste in the dump.

Donna Brewer

That's how I always did my son's diapers, as well as my brother's when he was little and we helped out mom.

Mom2j... Mom2jngnc

Never heard that one.
Although I am waiting for the day that they decide, diapers and used feminine hygene products need to go into "biohazard" bags and have a "special" pick-up.
I never dumped diaper contents into a toilet (unless it was my brief stint at cloth, but then a breast fed baby doesn't dispose of anything "dumpable"), it was always more conveinet for me to wrap up the diaper and place it in a trash can.
Now as far as "not enough concentration" for it to be a hazard. I was the only house in my block at any point with a diapered child, so that I do believe when you look at a bigger picture.

PoeDu... PoeDunkMae

I primarily cloth diaper and with that you have to obviously clean out the poo, so with disposable when we do them, we still clean it off a bit and flush it if possible...but we don't generally use them at home, we're usually on a car trip or something when we use the disposables so they get rolled up in the diaper ball and popped in a trash can.  I know hospitals aren't too keen on having diapers placed in garbage cans, and I see their point with germs and contanmination and stuff.  Plus, with one of my sons who has cancer he has to have a radioactive isotope injection every 3 months for one of his scans.  I am very careful with those diapers and we use cloth and wash them immediately and a couple different times.  I wouldn't want them sitting around a dump even though it's a very very minimal amount of stuff and NOT considered radioactive waste.

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