Despite their modern popularity, the ease of disposable nappies and the sheer volume that we use each year poses significant environmental problems.
Landfill Problems: Disposable nappies also place a huge strain on landfill sites in Australia. When combined with other absorbent hygiene materials (such as sanitary pads and incontinence pads), this results in around 450,000 tonnes of landfill waste every year and contributes to notable amounts of carbon emissions.
Decomposition Problems: Many disposable nappies are also not as biodegradable as we assume. Scientists estimate that once nappies end up in a landfill, they can take around 500 years to decompose.
Manufacturing Impact: Disposable nappies require large volumes of pulp, paper, plastic and other raw materials in the manufacturing process and hence, significant amounts of water and energy are used. This contributes to energy waste and pollution on a large scale and links to other problems associated with deforestation and non-sustainable sourcing.
Nappy Fact: According to The Good Human, disposable nappies use 3 times more energy, 20 times more raw materials and 2 times more water than reusable during the manufacturing process.
Contamination Issues: When we defecate, our waste goes into the toilet for good reason: It is treated and sanitised before being recycled or put back into our environment. The waste in disposable nappies, on the other hand, goes straight into the bin. As a result, when the nappies are placed into landfill, certain bacteria and viruses are at risk of soaking into our groundwater and causing subsequent contamination problems.
Other benefits of cloth nappies include: (1) Free of toxins and chemicals (like dioxin), meaning they can be much easier both on the baby and the environment (2) Opportunity for waste to go into the sewer system, rather than into the garbage (3) Ability to provide better absorption and a higher level of comfort for children (4) Less expensive than disposables in the long term and therefore more cost-effective
On average a child uses around 6570 nappies from birth to toilet training.
That’s a lot of money to spend on items that end up in waste. So maybe the question should be Why not use cloth Diapers??