Wetland – Sphagnum



Sphagnum is a cornerstone of our national water ecosystem, biodiversity and CO2 storage. For thousands of years Sphagnum (Veenmos) has captured carbon and sequestered this in our peat bogs. However, for hundreds of years we have cut out this peat to fire our stoves and heat our houses resulting in little Sphagnum to be left in the Netherlands. In several national initiatives we try to create conditions to restore the Sphagnum deposits to capture CO2 and avoid the further drying out of our soils. Typically this is done as part of nature restoration initiatives but Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven (STV) is proposing an alternative route via the promotion of Sphagnum growth by making it commercially relevant to grow and harvest.

Peat eco-systems are a valuable source of carbon storage. When the moss is able to grow, it can take up and store large amounts of carbon, however when desiccation occurs part of this carbon gets emitted back into the environment again. Rewetting peat soils can help against this emission (Schrader, 2016). Peat accumulation contributes to long-term soil carbon fixation. Another characteristic of sphagnum are its hygienic properties. Because of its acidifying properties the moss is able to suppress the growth of several bacteria and fungi. When the moss is kept in its bag it does not dry out or start rotting because of these acidic properties.



Current disposable diapers are made from a large array of plastics such as polyesters and SAP (superabsorbent polymer). It is currently impossible to recycle these diapers resulting in substantial environmental damage. Around 5% of our total waste consists of diapers. Every baby produces 300 kg per year of diaper waste, resulting in a total of 150 million kilograms in the Netherlands alone. Finding a sustainable alternative for disposable diapers can be considered urgent and many of the big brands are trying to come with more sustainable materials without much success.

STV designed a disposable and biodegradable diaper pad made from non-woven cotton fibers, compostable biopolymers and an absorbent material from dry Sphagnum. Over the past 3 years the design has been tested thoroughly on performance but also on practical usability. The pads can be used in combination with an outer pocket diaper in which the pad can be easily placed. When used the diaper pad can be stored, collected and composted in a specialized facility. Currently the product is in its 4th development stage after a successful test phase with actual babies.

Consultancy, Materials, Products, Research