- 90 per cent of the three billion nappies disposed of by UK annually go to landfill
- Tops offers trial to parents
The owner of Tops Day Nurseries has launched a campaign to promote reusable, washable nappies in a bid to reduce plastic pollution.
Cheryl Hadland hopes to discourage use of plastic, disposable single-use nappies, which are sent to landfill
It follows the launch of the Nappies (Environmental Standards) Bill in December. According to the nursery owner, the UK throws away nearly three billion nappies a year, and 90 per cent will end up in landfill where they can take 500 years to decompose.
All staff with babies and toddlers in nappies working in Tops’ 30 nurseries have been given a pack of reusable cloth nappies so they can support local parents to make the change, as well as lead by example. In each setting there is a hamper of reusable nappies to loan out to parents to try for free.
The campaign will also work with other nurseries across the country to support parents to switch to reusable nappies and is looking for donations.
Ms Hadland, who also chairs the Green Early Years Choices Champions Organisation’s Real Nappy campaign, said, ‘There needs to be a behavioural change away from plastic, disposable single-use nappies, towards reusable nappies. Every child has about 6,500 nappy changes, generating one tonne of plastic waste each. Damage is caused by nappies disintegrating into the environment, forming microplastics which can maim and kill fish, mammals and birds, and filter into the food chain for humans.
‘Every householder in the UK has about 3 per cent of their domestic rates bill spent on getting rid of single-use nappies. This is whether you have a baby in nappies or not. Using just one reusable nappy a day for three months will stop around 90 single-use nappies being thrown away.’
The move by Ms Hadland follows the decision to ban the use of glitter in all her nurseries.
Last year, one of the settings, Tops Day Nurseries in Havant, Hampshire, achieved plastic-free status. It was the first nursery to gain the Plastic Free Schools accreditation.
Katie Duke, manager of Tops Day Nursery in Havant, has two boys, three-year-old Oscar who is toilet-trained and one-year-old Blake. She was using disposable nappies but has made the switch.
She says, ‘If I’m completely honest, I thought using reusable nappies with my one-year-old would make nappy changing longer and more difficult. However, that is not the case and they are actually very easy to use. It’s all about the preparation, making sure everything is ready for when you need it.
‘The reusable nappies are very soft and effective and the reusable wet bag, which was provided in the hamper, is great for storing the used nappies until you get home to put them in the wash.’
‘When my boys were first born, purchasing reusable nappies wasn’t something I really considered. I would say the initial cost could put parents off as when you are preparing for the arrival of a baby there are lots of costly essentials that need purchasing.
‘However, Blake really seems to like the reusable nappies, so I have converted to using them. I am thankful that Cheryl was kind enough to provide the nappy hamper to me as part of her campaign, which enabled me to trial the nappies. It feels great knowing that I am helping the environment by reducing the number of disposable nappies going to landfill.’
Nappies (Environmental Standards) Bill
The bill was presented to Parliament by David Linden MP.
Under the Bill, an industry and Government-led campaign will be established to promote reusable nappies that meet the environmental standards and ensure that manufacturers cannot make false eco-friendly claims. Biodegradable disposable nappies are considered to use the same amount of limited raw materials and energy to produce as their non-biodegradable counterparts.
The Bill also incentivises local authorities to roll out reusable nappy voucher schemes to reduce disposable nappy waste. However, Ms Hadland said vouchers of £30, or even £50, won’t help new parents enough with the investment of moving to reusable nappies.
It is supported by the MP for Hackney South & Shoreditch, Meg Hillier. She said, ‘As a reusable nappy user, I know how easy it is to go green – but know much more needs to be done to support parents to do this. I have benefited from reusable nappy schemes and welcome the bill.’
The Bill also has the backing of The Nappy Alliance, which wants parents to be given more information about reusable alternatives.