Tweed Shire Council in the Australian state of New South Wales is offering a rebate to parents using reusable nappies (diapers) made with cotton terry or flannelette cotton, hemp, bamboo or a blend of these fibres.
Tweed Shire is a local government area located in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales that is home to a population approaching 100,000. The local government area (LGA) has 37 kilometres of beaches and incorporates several world-heritage listed National Parks: Wollumbin / Mount Warning, the Nightcap Ranges, the Border Ranges and a portion of Lamington National Park.
Given the local government area’s natural assets, it’s little wonder Council is keen to play its role in protecting them – including issues relating to waste and landfill.
Among this waste are nappies. Disposable nappy inserts appeared in 1950 and in the first year 750,000 packs were sold. While these inserts were based on cellulose fibre, the first “all-in-one” disposable diapers, which contained plastic, became available in the early 1960’s.
Fast forward to 2023 and according to Tweed Shire Council, 1.5 *billion* nappies end up in landfill across Australia each year. It’s estimated these disposable nappies take between 150 and 500 years to break down. And unfortunately it’s not just landfill where this waste ends up at times.
While disposable diapers are convenient and may seem cheaper than cloth nappies, the long-term financial and environmental cost is significant. Some eco-conscious parents are returning to using cloth diapers, but the up-front cost can be a challenge.
To help encourage parents and guardians within the Tweed LGA to make the switch from disposable nappies to reusable ones, Council is offering a rebate of up to 50% or $100 (whichever is lower) for eligible reusable nappies purchased since the beginning of this month. The rebate is also applicable to nappy inserts made with cotton terry or flannelette cotton, hemp, bamboo or a blend.
The use of hemp fiber for diapers and nappy inserts has been increasing, with more products becoming available. Among the benefits reported by parents using these products is superior absorbency. Hemp is also durable and cloth diapers generally offer more breathability than disposables, which helps to keep a baby’s skin drier.
In terms of fibre choice, hemp and bamboo are generally more environmentally friendly than conventional cotton – but organic cotton is also a good choice.
More information on Tweed Shire Council’s initiative can be found here – hopefully more local governments will follow suit!