Our country’s an innovation hub. The time is ripe, so here’s a game plan.

women pulling a bag of recycled trash
Photo by Mumtahina Tanni on

A growing filth river flows past us every day; diapers. They’re smelly, prohibited in land fill and won’t burn. Yet more people coming into the world each day and more growing old, it spells both trouble and opportunity. More babies, more incontinent elders and overstuffed landfills means diapers have nowhere to go. That unsanitary flood is disgusting. Fortunately, you need not dwell on this worthless filth ocean because you are at such a high pay grade.

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Ah, but there you’d be wrong and small-minded to boot. Hot off the news wire today comes N.Y.Times (11/15/21) late-breaking news from Houki, Japan. The small burg has only 10,500 citizens, but a disproportionately large share are elderly or nursing home residents in addition to pamper producing toddlers. Houki can’t dispose of their filth flood. Their waste disposal planers have met a dead end. The landfill is full with old, illegally dumped nappies, yet the yearly production keeps increasing by 13%. What to do with this worthless but plentiful natural resource? How to cut the dump fees?

Since you and I don’t apply our hygienic if unimaginative minds to Houki’s problems the town has summoned their finest entrepreneurial talent for a home-grown solution.

Long story short, Houki converted an old incineration plant into a diaper processing facility. There, they sterilize, ferment and heat to 350 degrees the used diapers. Then the used pampers are converted into two-inch-long fuel pellets. Those are used to heat the water in the local hot spring or Onsen.

They’ve converted a few tons of waste into valuable fuel. We might look down on this small-scale operation throwing off no profit. But, instead, why not take it as a pioneering inspiration for entrepreneurial talent everywhere. Though Houki’s waste disposal is small potatoes, it satisfies a major world need that makes the place better.

Isn’t that what the world’s richest man, Elon Musk did? He didn’t invent automobiles when he landed on our shores from Africa. Ford, GM, and Toyota already had an automotive head start on him. If Elon can grow Tesla and his “New Green Vision” into something bigger than GM in market value, if he can revolutionized the auto industry, while putting three hundred billion in his pocket, what about us? Surely some local can turn our 27 billion diaper disposal per year river into a billion-dollar business.

Our country is the epicenter of entrepreneurial talent. Now we need an Elon Musk of Dirty Diapers.

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