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Reusable Nappies in NZ come up trumps

Reusable Nappies in NZ come up trumps in three separate reports!

Three new reports from Victoria University, Massey University and the UK Environment Agency give parents’ confidence that choosing reusable nappies will positively impact their budget and the environment.  Parents have felt confused by claims that using reusable nappies are no better for the environment than throwaway products. 

The 2008 Revised UK Environment Agency report Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK, released in October, has clarified many issues surrounded the first edition released in 2005.  The new assessment brings comfort to parents by confirming that reusable nappies are a more eco friendly option.  The study clearly states that, “in contrast to the use of disposable nappies, it is consumers’ behaviour after purchase that determines most of the impacts from reusable nappies.”  If further states that:

Combining three of the beneficial scenarios (washing nappies in a fuller load, outdoor line drying all of the time, and reusing nappies on a second child) would lower the global warming impact by 40 per cent from the baseline scenario, or some 200kg of carbon dioxide equivalents over the two and a half years, equal to driving a car approximately 1,000 km.

This assessment backs up what the NZ Ministry for the Environment found when reviewing this report in 2006. 

An investigation by Victoria University students have also come to the same conclusions.  Students were asked to look into key areas of sustainability.  Nappies came up as an area worthy of investigation by the students.  The results of their investigation show the impact expressed as an eco footprint, or land size.  At only 2300m2 of land, reusable nappies washed at home in NZ had a 46% smaller impact than throwaway products which needed 4300m2 of land.

Massey University economics students are also investigating the impact of reusable nappies but not on the environment but rather on the family budget.  One of the students, Amanda Fernando, from Massey University Wellington is looking into the cost to parents of purchasing throwaway products.  With family budgets being stretched during these tight financial times cutting out $20-$30+ a week in costs can help parents to reduce their grocery bill. 

The New Zealand Nappy Alliance ( has assessed the total financial cost to families in regard to using and disposing of throwaway nappies.  Kate Meads, spokesperson for the NZNA says, “It’s not just the cost of the 4000-6000 throwaway nappies parents have to consider.  There are the throwaway baby wipes, the council rubbish bags or wheely bins, the nappy wrapper units, the disposable training pants as well as the estimate that most children in disposable nappies will be toilet trained by 3.5 years.”  At less than $1000 for a full set of premium reusable nappies, cloth wipes and accessories plus $191 for total washing costs, the benefit to parents is profound compared to the full cost of throwaway nappies which could cost families up to $6,000+.  Using cloth nappies on two children brings the potential savings to over $10,000.




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