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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Greenhouse gas emissions of biobased diapers containing chemically modified protein superabsorbents

Capezza, Antonio J.; Newson, William R.; Muneer, Faraz; Johansson, Eva; Cui, Yuxiao; Hedenqvist, Mikael S.; Olsson, Richard T.; Prade, Thomas


Replacing the current mainly fossil-based, disposable, and non-biodegradable sanitary products with sustainable, functional alternatives is an industry priority. Suggested biobased alternatives require evaluation of their actual impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We evaluated GHG emissions of biobased baby diapers as the most consumed sanitary product, using a biodegradable functionalized protein superabsorbent polymer (bioSAP) and compared them with currently used fossil-based counterparts. Assessment of the diapers also included estimated GHG emissions from the production of the biobased components, transport, and end-of-life combustion of these items. It was shown that only a few of the biobased diaper alternatives resulted in lower GHG emissions than commercial diapers containing fossil-based materials. At the same time, it was demonstrated that the production of the bioSAP via chemical modification of a protein raw material is the primary GHG contributor, with 78% of the total emissions. Reduction of the GHG contribution of the bioSAP production was achieved via a proposed recycling route of the functionalization agent, reducing the GHG emissions by 13% than if no recycling was carried out. Overall, we demonstrated that reduced and competitive GHG emissions could be achieved in sanitary articles using biobased materials, thereby contributing to a sanitary industry producing disposable products with less environmental pollution while allowing customers to keep their current consumption patterns.


Superabsorbent; Diapers; Protein; Sustainability; Circularity

Published in

Journal of Cleaner Production
2023, Volume: 387, article number: 135830

      SLU Authors

        • Sustainable Development Goals

          Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
          Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
          Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

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          Other Environmental Engineering

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