On any one day there are about 335k babies and toddlers in London wearing an average of 5 disposable nappies per day.  That means over 1.5 million nappies are thrown away in London every day.  We estimate Londoners spend approximately £20 million per year on the collection and disposal of nappy waste.

How much does YOUR local authority spend on the disposal of nappy waste each year?  We make an estimate based on the number of babies born in your borough, the amount of waste a baby in disposable nappies generates (874kg – almost a tonne, from birth to potty training) and the cost of waste disposal per tonne for your borough – this varies according to the way waste is treated. 

Here are some examples of the costs per year, per London borough:
Brent  £490k  (based on 5,340 births in 2012)
Croydon  £365k  (based on 4,177 births in 2012)
Ealing £504k (based on 5,487 births in 2012)
Hillingdon  £420k  (based on 4,536 births in 2012)
Hounslow  £424k (based on 4,621 births in 2012)
Lambeth £582k (based on 4,825 births in 2012)
Merton £319k  (based on 3,476 births in 2012)
Sutton £237k (based on 2,708 births in 2012)
Wandsworth (inc collection)  £886k (based on 5,451 births in 2012)

Surely local authorities should spend at least 3% of what they spend on disposable nappy waste on preventing/reducing the cost of this household waste stream?    Why don’t they?  Because they say residents can’t be influenced and so raising awareness is a waste of money.  It’s true that real nappies will not become the norm over night.  Behaviour change is slow.  It took about 30 years for disposable nappies to become the norm.  It could take 30 years for real nappies to become the norm again. 

At Real Nappies for London we know that real nappy vouchers are an effective way of increasing the uptake of washable nappies.  They increase word-of-mouth (the best marketing there is) and encourage residents to find out about them and try them.

We don’t understand it when local authorities say they haven’t got the money to pay for our help.  The collection and disposal of single-use nappies is expensive.  Reusable nappies are a zero waste alternative and bring down waste collection and disposal costs. 

Real Nappies for London was designed to be a pan-London scheme.  By working across London we can offer an economic and effective service – the more boroughs join the better the scheme.  This is largely because of you.  You have friends in different boroughs and can refer them to RNfL for help and support in using washable nappies.

We are in the run-up to the London local elections.  Councillors are listening.  Please write to them (use this link to write a quick email) and tell them that you want them to spend money on reducing disposable nappy waste in your borough.  If your borough does offer a nappy voucher or a nappy trial pack please let them know you support this.  This will help ensure these schemes continue to exist.

For futher information on disposables vs reusable nappies please see Which?  A good article to pass on to friends and family that are expecting a baby.

Do post any questions you have about the Real Nappies for London scheme and we will try to answer them.  As residents you are powerful.  You can get your borough to promote real nappies if enough of you contact your councillors.

Want more ideas on how to reduce your waste? This inspiring YouTube film of a Zero Waste Household has had over 70,000 views.