it’s also big business, according to Hilary Vick, Real Nappies for London Project Manager

Barbican Conference Centre, London, November 2009 I arrive late at the Zero Waste conference, organised by the Resource Recovery Forum. The coffee break is in full-swing. I overhear a woman, high heels, suit (presumably a waste industry professional) say “Well, if what I just heard in there is right we’ll be out of business in 10 years time.”

What I’ve never understood about the waste industry is why it doesn’t get Zero Waste. I’ve talked to many waste industry professionals and waste prevention scares them. Few of them seem to understand that there’s always going to be waste and actually as the volume goes down and waste disposal standards go up they will charge more for handling less waste better. They are never going to go out of business.

In addition they have the business of cleaning up the mess that the waste industry has been allowed to make. A big one is the ash from incineration. Another big one is the leachate from landfill sites. They’re always going to be busy. They do a dirty job that has to be done and we are grateful. Now, they need to get on side and help prevent waste so they can make money out of dealing with less waste, better.

Landfilling disposable nappies is environmental vandalsim and it’s time the waste industry (that with a few exceptions constantly denies that disposable nappy waste is an issue) and all UK political parties recognised the need to support parents and institutions that use real nappies. They are preventing waste and that’s what’s best.

There are other alternatives to landfill. But waste prevention is cheap compared to the costs of incineration, recycling and composting nappy waste. Parents that use real nappies reduce the cost of dealing with disposable nappy waste. So why isn’t everyone championing real nappy use?

Support for real nappies will not even be in the Waste Prevention Plan for England when it comes out (deadline 12 December 2013.) And this is wrong; not only are real nappies zero waste, but also, according to the updated life cycle analysis by the Environment Agency (2008,see link below), real nappies if washed at 60 degrees or below and line dried (RNfL research shows that this is how most London parents launder nappies) can have up to 40% lower carbon impacts than single-use nappies.

Look out for BIG ACTIVISM on the day the Waste Prevention Plan for England is released. We want real nappy parents from in and around London to gather in a public place and make a BIG SPECTACLE. And if you haven’t got a baby but support us please join us. And if nappies get into the Waste Prevention Plan we’ll be celebrating!

Please book here to register your interest.

Resource Recovery Forum: Waste Prevention: Aiming High, November 2009

Envionment Agency: Using Science to create a better place; an updated life cycle assessment study for disposable and reusable nappies, October 2008

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