Baby Hints & Tips

Environmental impact of disposable nappies

by Kate from Bouncing Sprouts

Disposable nappies are a popular consumer product, especially in Australia. It is a common misconception that there is very little difference between disposable and reusable nappies in overall environmental impact. This misconception is based upon two scientific reports on the lifecycles of nappies produced by Procter and Gamble in 1989 and 1990. (Procter and Gamble are the makers of Pampers disposable nappies).  Although disposable nappies offer convenience, they do have many significant dangerous environmental impacts including the amount of landfill and greenhouse gases they produce.

In Australia, up to 2.2 million disposable nappies are used daily(calculated on 1 child under the age of 2.5, wearing 6 disposable nappies each day).  This equates to 734 kg of domestic waste per year.  Disposable nappies contain toxins and plastics which need to be exposed to oxygen and sunlight to decompose, however, this can take about 500 years to break down.  This means that every disposable nappy, since their invention in 1961, sent to landfill is still there and will be for generations to come.

It is well known that traditional and modern cloth nappies (MCNs) avoid the problem of contributing to landfill and have a positive environmental impact.  MCNs use 20 times less raw materials, 2 times less water and 3 times less energy to make.  The carbon footprint for MCNs is dependent on conditions of washing and drying which can be anywhere between 81% -38% lower than disposable nappies depending on factors such as water temperature, use of dryers and use by subsequent children.

Next time you are at the supermarket bear in mind that it takes 6000 disposable nappies to get one child through birth to potty training but only 30 modern cloth nappies for the same period.   Get on board and put the poo where it belongs – in the loo! Let us help reduce the environmental impact of disposable nappies.


Dr Kate Kollar

Dr. Kate Kollar is the Mummy of Lily-Rose, founder & owner of Bouncing Sprouts, passionate about bums in cloth! If you would like more information about MCNs, I am always here to answer any questions. Please email me at kate@bouncingsprouts.com or visit us at www.bouncingsprouts.com and Facebook. To see all of Kate’s articles, click here.

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