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Himeji chemical plant blast threatens diaper supply

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© 2012 AFP

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Yet another sign that disposable anything is just not sustainable over time and a mentality that needs to go. Like electric toilets with needless geegaws, are these things really necessary? Convenient, yes, but at what overall cost? Not all new technologies are worth the trouble to use, even though the branding folks and marketing wizards sure want you to believe they are.

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I can't believe the Chinese can't make enough diapers without Nippon Shokubai's superabsorbent polymer.

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Nippon Shokubai had planned to boost its production to meet the growing demand for disposable diapers in China, the paper said.

No islands...no daipers! Use that as political pressure.

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Time to ramp up toilet training!

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Don't the "cloth-diaper services" exist any more ? We used "Kobé-Baby" for both our sons. If these services closed down after the advent of the "kami-omutsu", they should start up again ! They'd have their work cut out for them !

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Nippon Shokubai had planned to boost its production to meet the growing demand for disposable diapers in China, the paper said.

Most babies in China don't even wear diapers, not even the cloth kind. Instead they wear a kind of split pants. China already has a major problem with its trash disposal.

"Trash was never complicated before, because we didn't have supermarkets, we didn't have fancy packaging and endless things to buy," says Mr. Nie. "Now suddenly, the government is panicking about the mountains of garbage piling up with no place to put it all."

Where exactly are the Chinese going to put all those soiled diapers?

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Problem here is, with all the modern technology, they still have only "cold water" washing machines... In France one can programme the washing machine to any desired temperature 20 or 30 degrees.

No, that's not a problem, cloth diapers can be washed in cold water. And the newer technology is actually washing machines and detergents that wash effectively with cold water- it's wasting resources by using hot water that is actually old fashioned.

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Redesign? Yes. Just use Velcro. Yes, more expensive. Failing that use a different kind of adhesive.

What are you talking about? The chemical affected is the absorbent part of the diaper, not the adhesive. Velcro has nothing to do with it.

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It is what else that is stored on site at that plant that worries.

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Reza RahmanSep. 30, 2012 - 11:35PM JST

Basrol Rebranding is changing the name of a product. Like marathon to snickers (happened in the UK about 20 years ago). Redesign? Yes. Just use Velcro. Yes, more expensive. Failing that use a different kind of adhesive.

Diaper companies make their brands on the fact they are light and absorbent. Without SAP, diapers either lose up to 90% of their absorption or become up to ten times thicker. Their brand collapses if they are found using lower quality materials, so they will be forced to cut production for existing brands and create new ones for old materials they no longer cared about.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

@edojin

I agree ! People have become so lazy ! Get out the good old diapers made of soft fabric (which is much kinder to the skin anyway). Problem here is, with all the modern technology, they still have only "cold water" washing machines... In France one can programme the washing machine to any desired temperature 20 or 30 degrees for fine fabrics up to 90 degrees for diapers with "medium" temperatures in between.

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Basrol Rebranding is changing the name of a product. Like marathon to snickers (happened in the UK about 20 years ago). Redesign? Yes. Just use Velcro. Yes, more expensive. Failing that use a different kind of adhesive. Everything changes so why not nappies (UK word for diapers). As for the factory itself, yeah it will re-build. The question is can the family who are affected by the explosion get the support they need.

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CosSep. 30, 2012 - 09:15PM JST

They can produce disposable diapers without that product, but that certainly costs to the diaper makers to change suddenly of models.

Actually, they can't. Doing so would require rebranding, which is VERY costly. There's also a limit on the filler materials due to health concerns, and considering SAP is toxic by itself that says a few things about alternatives.

They could of course go back to fiber fillers, but they would be ten times larger to accomplish the same effect.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

It won't take long to repair the plant.

It could take months for all we know, unless you have heard something different or are an expert in the manufacture of this kind of chemical? Even if it takes only 6 weeks or so, Japan goes through 20 million disposable diapers a day (not an exaggeration- the US uses 50 million a day) so they will have to be up and running very soon to keep up with that demand.

As soon as this news spreads there will be a big panic buy of all the diapers on the shelves right now which will affect supply as well- I'd say it will start happening tomorrow actually.

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They can produce disposable diapers without that product, but that certainly costs to the diaper makers to change suddenly of models.

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Weirdest headline in a long time here at JT.

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SAP supplies are ample but most companies cut operating rate of their facilities during the low season.. the company Nippon Shokubai invented this product & produces by far the best quality SAP. Its competitors will ramp up production to meet the supply shortfall resulted from the accident.

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Guess the Moms & old people's homes will have to start using the old-fashioned diapers. When they are dirtied, just wash them, dry them and use them again. After all, it will only be a short time before the disposable diaper factory is up and running again.

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hatsoffSep. 30, 2012 - 06:03PM JST

. I hope it wasn't sabotage. They'll have to investigate.

Considering there's more demand than supply, not likely sabotage in terms of industrial espionage (though angry employee is possible). Most likely this is a case of poor management of chemical stock, or an attempt to run their process at over 100% capacity. Given that they explained this fire started and then spread to a tank of acrylic acid and toluene, it is very likely that they pumped around more acid than their safety systems were designed for, as well as likely placing tanks too close together it maximize production.

SAP isn't just used in diapers though, it is used in sanitary pads, medical waste scrubbers, and also being used to help clean up Fukushima. You'll see many more articles like this explaining the impact on a dozen other products.

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This is the hidden side of Japan's industry. We all know Panasonic, Sony, Honda and Toyota, but this company has 20% of the global diaper market.

I hope it wasn't sabotage. They'll have to investigate.

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I did mention this before. However, this version of the article (Reuter's is better) doesn't explain that the world production is currently limited by the fact only a few companies produce the resins needed, and all are operating at capacity.

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