Today’s New Zealand Herald carries a story about a West Auckland maternity hospital, Waitakere Hospital, that has made the switch to modern cloth nappies. This alone will save 80 000 nappies from going to landfill every year.
Parents leaving the hospital with their babies will have the choice of hiring a cloth nappy kit at half the usual price, or switching to disposables.
West Auckland Health Services Foundation’s Dr Nicole Bassett said using cloth nappies could cut the household waste of a family with one baby in half.
The foundation and Waitakere City Council decided to switch to cloth nappies after a three-month pilot scheme saved about 20,000 nappies going to landfill.
Dr Bassett said feedback from the pilot scheme showed cloth nappies were not difficult to use and did not cost the hospital significantly more than disposable nappies.
Parents who picture themselves struggling with pins and squares of fabric might be pleasantly surprised at the new breed of cloth nappies. Dr Bassett said modern versions came prefolded in different shapes and sizes and fastened neatly with velcro.
Figures compiled by the Zero Waste New Zealand Trust and used by the Waitakere City Council said disposable nappies used 3.5 times more energy, eight times more non-renewable raw materials, and 90 times more renewable materials than washable nappies.
The figures also showed that it took as much energy to produce one throwaway nappy as it did to wash a cloth nappy 200 times.