British report reveals reusable nappies offer substantial enviro benefits.



The Environment Agency, UK, has revealed that using reusable nappies, as opposed to disposable ones, can save families, carers and the environment 40% in carbon emissions.


The ‘Updated Lifecycle Assessment Study for Disposable and Reusable Nappies’, published on Friday in the UK, was the largest and most comprehensive study of its type ever to be undertaken examining the environmental impacts of the two nappy systems.


Lucy Westerman, Director of the Australian Nappy Network is delighted with the findings, saying that, “This report represents a dramatic step forward in propelling community education, amongst parents and carers, and confirms exactly what we have known for many years – that reusable nappies really are much better for the environment than disposables.”


The quantity of disposable nappies currently being sent to landfill, in Australia alone, is reaching dramatic proportions.  Recent research shows that Australians are throwing away one billion disposable nappies every single year, with each of these taking up to 300 years to fully decomposei.


“The environmental impact of disposable nappies in Australia is immense,” explains Ms Westerman.  “Coupled with the landfill issue you also have to consider the impact of the materials, chemicals and resources that go into the manufacturing and packaging of disposables.”


“The Report demonstrates that by simply washing reusable nappies in full loads, using an energy efficient washing machine, set under 60º Celsius, line-drying them and reusing them on other children provides over 40% reduction in carbon emissions, compared to the use of disposables.”


“In Australia, obviously we have to be very conscious of using our water efficiently but we have the significant benefit of the climate, which enables most Australians to air-dry throughout the year,” she continued.


Today’s reusable nappies bridge the gap between the cloth of by gone eras and disposables.  Reusables are increasingly produced with minimal impact from highly absorbent sustainable eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo and hemp.  Such fabrics are incredibly effective and soft for your baby to wear with the added convenience of being quick-drying, fitted like disposables or flat, with velcro, snappis or press-stud fasteners and no longer requiring soaking.



“Typically a baby will get through between 4000 and 6000 nappy changes before it is toilet trained, so when you consider the impact of this on the environment and the cost effectiveness of using reusables, it’s a win-win situation, not only for the environment but for your pocket too.”

“If you then go on to reuse these nappies on another child you create even greater savings and by adopting reusable nappies means that parents and carers are in control of the impact they have on the environment,” concludes Ms Westerman.




The Australian Nappy Network (ANN) is a non-profit organisation promoting the health, environmental and financial advantages of reusable nappies – more details can be found at   The ANN also organises the annual community education initiative Reusable Nappy Week,


An Updated Lifecycle Assessment Study for Disposable and Reusable Nappies Environment Agency, 17/10/2008, is an addendum to the Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK, 2005, is published by the Environment Agency 17 October 2008 and is available to view in full on



To arrange an interview or for further information please contact

Lucy Westerman.


[1] CSIRO, ECOS, The Nappy Changers, April-May 2007, 136


ANN Media Release re: Updated Env Agency Report (.pdf download version)


The United Kingdom’s Environment Agency (Government) has released an updated Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) Study for Disposable and Reusable Nappies using 2006 reference points (as opposed to outdated ones from 2004).

The new report reiterates what reusable nappy users have maintained since modern fabrics and washing methods have been adopted, that reusable nappies are better for the environment than disposable nappies, by up to a staggering 40%.

The report says that washing reusable nappies in full loads in energy efficient machines, on 40°C then line drying and reusing on future children uses only 370kg carbon dioxide equivalents over 2.5 years in nappies. Conversely, using disposable nappies for the same period releases 550kg carbon dioxide equivalents to the atmosphere (nearly double). The report’s findings will encourage all parents to adpot best practice laundering and care methods as advocated by modern users of reusable nappies, the Australian Nappy Network and explained at the FAQ section of Oz Cloth Nappies.

The full report can be downloaded here: An updated lifecycle assessment study for disposable and reusable nappies 

(If the link above does not open the page hosting the fully updated report, us the search publications function and search for the term ‘nappies’ – note, you are looking for the updated report)

Read the Australian Nappy Network (Aus) Media Release

Read the Women’s Environment Network (WEN – UK) Press Release on the Updated Report

Real the Real Nappy Campaign (UK) Media Release on the Updated Report

For media discussion of the updated LCA please read here:

Daily Telegraph UK Nappies: terry cloth more environmentally friendly than disposable

MRW: Cloth nappies can save 40% carbon emissions, EA report reveals

The Herald (UK) Revealed: using reusable nappies best for the environment

The Herald (UK) Washable Nappies Can HelpFamilies Stay Green… and Cut Costs

Follow the journey of a mum trying out reusable nappies after being a disposable user for 3 years. She is starting the journey with her 9 month old daughter, and her research is fantastically documented in her Parenting Blog for the Courier Mail – she’s “done the hard work for you” in her (so far) 2 part series of blogs looking at how reusable nappies have changed for modern times through the ‘cloth nappy revolution’, and addresses environmental, convenience and cost considerations. 

Check out the blog here 🙂

Cloth versus disposable nappies, part I

Cloth versus disposable nappies, part II

And if Felicity reads this – Enjoy the journey and revelations!