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 and piloted such a scheme here in Ireland.

The pilot Cloth Nappy Incentive Scheme ran through October 2022 and provided a voucher for participating families to purchase a cloth nappy starter kit from our two partner suppliers. Families could choose from a selection of bundles, but most starter kit bundles included ten birth to potty nappies, nappy inserts, a pack of reusable wipes and a wet bag. It was a big success with all available vouchers gone in two weeks! Participants in the scheme will take part in follow up interviews in February 2023 to find out how they got on with the nappies.

This project is 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 was also provided by Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

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