Together with local authorities and nappy providers, VOICE are working to reduce disposable nappy waste in Ireland.
Disposable nappies are a huge source of plastic waste, with the average daily plastic consumption of single-use nappies being equivalent to throwing away seven supermarket plastic bags per day!
A baby uses between 4,000 and 4,500 nappies before potty training at roughly 2.5 years, and the average age for potty training is on the rise! The UNEP reported in 2021 that disposable nappies are one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste globally.
While an alternative to disposable nappies is available to parents in the form of reusable nappies, they are not widely used. One barrier to wider use of reusable nappies is the upfront cost of purchasing cloth nappies. In the UK most local authorities offer a financial incentive scheme to remove this cost barrier for interested families. VOICE have now developed such a scheme here in Ireland.
The scheme was piloted in late 2022 with families living in the Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council, and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council areas. This pilot, funded by the EPA, was a great success and for 2023 the scheme will be rolled out more widely! Some of the biggest local authorities in the country will be offering the Cloth Nappy Incentive Scheme to families living in their areas in 2023!
The scheme is open to families with a baby less than 12 months old, who haven’t considered using cloth nappies and who live within one of the participating areas. Each participating family will receive a voucher worth €100 that they can redeem with one of our partner stockists for cloth nappies and accessories. Families taking part in the scheme can choose from a selection of starter bundles all of which include ten birth to potty nappies, nappy inserts, a pack of reusable wipes and a wet bag. Some of us may remember cloth nappies from our own childhood, and think of terry cloth, safety pins and rubber knickers! But reusable nappies have moved on. These days cloth nappies go on just like disposables, keep your baby dry and protected, and come in cute designs!
Participants in the scheme are required to take part in two follow up surveys to find out how they got on with the nappies!
Check out our Cloth Nappy Incentive Scheme application page to see if the scheme is available in your local authority area: https://www.voiceireland.org/cloth-nappy-incentive-scheme
The pilot project was funded under the EPA Research Programme 2021-2030. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. Funding for the pilot was also provided by Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
"This scheme has given us the opportunity to try cloth nappies that I otherwise might not have had. The cost of them can be a difficult thing for many, so having schemes like this is very important! The nappies are lovely and they help reduce waste so much. Even if one ends up using them part time and still use some disposables, it's absolutely worth it, the difference in waste produced is big. I am grateful for this chance and we will definitely keep on using the nappies we received! Thank you".
Milica, Dun Laoghaire
"This is an excellent idea. When you have a young baby or babies your entire black bin is just full of nappies, it’s depressing to see. They go & sit in landfill for years. My generation haven’t been exposed to cloth nappies, it’s a foreign concept. However they are very eco aware and eager to make conscious environmental choices. Choosing cloth nappies is a leap of faith and the cost of doing it can be off putting so this is a fantastic incentive and having pre-designed bundles (by experts) is helpful".
Grainne, North Dublin
"I am very thankful for the Cloth Nappy Incentive Scheme. I wouldn't have use reusable cloth nappies if it wasn't for the scheme because I didn't know what to expect and thought it was going to a lot of work. Since I started using cloth nappies for my baby, I have reduced waste and saved money, and I am also more knowledgeable on the topic of sustainability. I have talked to many friends and family members to debunk some of the misconceptions about cloth nappies. There is still a lot of education to do so I hope this scheme can continue to support Irish families to learn about and transition to cloth nappies".
Marion, Dublin North
"I was on the fence about using cloth nappies prior to finding the scheme. I was recommended them by a friend when I was pregnant and I was keen to use them for environmental reasons. I was worried about investing the initial cost in case I didn't get on well with them. I had tried the nappy loan but didn't get in to a flow with them and wasn't sure. Once I found the scheme, I said I would apply and see what happened. I was happy to try again and donate them if we didn't get on well. I was delighted when it came through as it helped greatly with the initial cost. Worrying about money on maternity leave, I may not have invested otherwise. The nappies & wipes that came from the scheme voucher are great quality and are some of my favourite ones in our collection. Once we started using them, I found them relatively easy and hope to use them until my daughter is toilet-trained and on any younger siblings (if we are so lucky!). I have recommended cloth nappies to many friends and mentioned the incentive scheme to anyone who would be eligible for it. I have also recommended reusable wipes to people and know some people have bought and used them on my recommendation. I think the scheme is excellent and it should be advertised better and even be available nationwide. Anyone I have told about it who is interested and eligible, has applied. I think it is a major incentive for people. I am very happy I applied and we were lucky to get it as I may not have started otherwise and now we are using cloth full-time".
Geraldine, Dublin 15