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Are 'real nappies' a waste of time?


5th July, 2007

Last Friday, former waste minister Ben Bradshaw announced the end of the £30 million 'Real Nappy Campaign', claiming that "there was no significant difference between any of the environmental impacts of the disposable, home-use reusable and commercial laundry systems that were assessed".

Critics of the campaign have claimed that a huge amount of taxpayers' money has been wasted in the cause of 'green political correctness'. But Kay Wagland, the Women's Environmental Network (WEN) Real Nappy Project Officer, points out that his comments are based on a flawed Environment Agency report from 2005.

According to WEN, which was involved in the report, the agency
overestimated the number of cloth nappies needed; included figures for washing at 90oC and tumble drying that modern cloth nappies do not require; and used price figures to calculate the energy consumed in the retail and transport of disposable nappies.

Supporters of disposable nappies worry that the negative publicity
generated by Ben Bradshaw's announcement may stifle a growing industry
while also misrepresenting the experience of using modern, fitted cloth nappies.

More importantly, despite what the minister says, there are wider
environmental concerns. It is estimated that at least three billion
disposable nappies are thrown away every year in the UK.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist July 2007


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