Reusable nappy schemes could save parents and the planet, says MSP

The benefits of reusable nappies

Reusable nappies are a more eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to disposable ones, according to Monica Lennon, a Scottish Labour MSP. She is calling for the Scottish Government to support the rollout of free reusable nappy schemes across Scotland, which could save new parents up to £500 per child. She also said that reusable nappies could help reduce landfill costs for councils and fight the climate and cost-of-living crisis.

Lennon welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans to explore if a successful free scheme for reusable nappies in North Ayrshire could be replicated elsewhere. She also said that she had positive and constructive talks with Lorna Slater, the Circular Economy Minister, and hoped that more people across Scotland could access reusable nappies, free at the point of need.

The problem of disposable nappies

Disposable nappies are a huge environmental and social problem, as they generate around 3 billion tonnes of waste every year in the UK, representing up to 3 per cent of all household waste. They also take hundreds of years to decompose and release harmful greenhouse gases and chemicals into the soil and water.

Moreover, disposable nappies are a significant expense for many families, especially those on low incomes or facing financial hardship. Research by baby banks last year found that more than 80 per cent of parents were forced to restrict their babies to one nappy a day because they could not afford to buy more. Lennon said that this had led to the national disgrace of “nappy rationing in 2024” and that theft of essential baby supplies like formula and nappies was rising.

The success of North Ayrshire’s scheme

North Ayrshire Council became the first council in Scotland to introduce a free “birth to potty” reusable nappy scheme in 2019, which provides parents with a starter pack of 15 reusable nappies, liners, boosters, and a wet bag. The scheme has been so popular that there is now a waiting list of over 200 families. The council estimates that the scheme has saved over 300,000 disposable nappies from going to landfill and has reduced its waste disposal costs by over £18,000.

Reusable nappy schemes

The scheme also provides parents with information and advice on how to use and wash reusable nappies, as well as access to a network of peer supporters and online groups. The council said that the feedback from parents had been overwhelmingly positive and that they had noticed benefits such as less nappy rash, less leakage, and more comfort for their babies.

The future of reusable nappies in Scotland

The Scottish Government has committed to creating a circular economy in Scotland, where resources are used for as long as possible and waste is minimised. As part of its Circular Economy Routemap, it has commissioned research to understand the barriers to uptake of reusable nappies and to use the success of the North Ayrshire scheme to support take-up in other areas.

Lennon said that Scotland had the potential to lead a reusable nappy revolution and that everyone in the Scottish Parliament should get behind this campaign. She said that switching from single-use to reusable nappies was a win-win for everyone in the fight against the climate emergency and the cost-of-living pressures.

By Zane Lee

Zane Lee is a talented content writer at Cumbernauld Media, specializing in the finance and business niche. With a keen interest in the ever-evolving world of finance, Zane brings a unique perspective to his articles and blog posts. His in-depth knowledge and research skills allow him to provide valuable insights and analysis on various financial topics. Zane's passion for writing and his ability to simplify complex concepts make his content engaging and accessible to readers of all levels.

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