UK environment agency disappoints advocates of cloth nappies

5 July, 2007:

Cloth nappies are no more environment-friendly than disposable nappies, according to Ben Bradshaw, Health Minister of the United Kingdom.

Ben Bradshaw’s declaration comes after a four-year study by the Environment Agency of the United Kingdom concluded that “there is little or nothing to choose between traditional nappies and disposable nappies."

A study by the Environment Agency found that the damage caused by burying disposables in landfill sites was matched by the electricity and greenhouse gases generated by washing and drying cloth nappies.

Ben Bradshaw, a former minister for environment, told the House of Commons: “Reusable nappies may reduce demands on landfill, but they still impact on the environment in other ways such as water and energy used in washing and drying them.”

The findings may come as a relief to parents who feel guilty about using disposable nappies.

Only 5% of parents in the United Kingdom are now believed to use cloth nappies, and nearly three billion nappies are thrown away annually – with 90% of them ending up in landfill.

The Taxpayers Alliance has said the findings by the Environment Agency are an embarrassment for the government-funded Real Nappy Campaign,
which had cost taxpayers £2.3 million over three years.

According to the Taxpayers Alliance, the British Government should concentrate on getting politicians out of managing vast government departments and bringing in outside experts to run reformed public services, “otherwise we will continue to see more examples of this sort of madness.”

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which ran the Real Nappy Campaign, said it had succeeded in diverting 23,000 tonnes of
disposable nappies away from landfill.

A spokesman for the Waste and Resources Action Programme said the group is confident that modern parents, who are aware of environmental
issues, will be in a position to make an informed decision in their choice of nappies.

Local councils have started to offer gift vouchers or cash rewards to mothers who use traditional nappies as a part of a drive to reduce the number that go to landfill.

Councils of Three Rivers district, in south-west Hertfordshire, gives parents £80 if they use a nappy laundry service for six months. While the Harrow
council in north-west London offers a one-off grant of £60 per child to offset the cost of buying real cotton nappies, Suffolk and Norfolk county councils
offer a £30 subsidy.




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