The Nappy Lady Ltd

Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK 2023

Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK 2023

Are reusable nappies really better for the environment?

YES THEY ARE and the latest 2023 Defra Government research backs up what we've always known at The Nappy Lady!

Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable & Reusable Nappies in 2023

In 2023 Defra carried out a life cycle assessment (LCA) comparing the environmental impact of disposables and reusable nappies.

Much has changed in the production of all nappies, the national grid and waste management since the previous LCA report over 15 years ago back in 2008.

Key Information from the Nappies Life Cycle Assessment 2023:

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in 2023 has proven:

  • Reusable nappies produce 25% less CO2 than single-use disposable nappies
  • The environmental impact of production is over 90% lower for a reusable nappy than for single-use
  • The environmental impact of disposal of a single-use nappy is nine times higher than for that of a reusable nappy
  • Report shows that even when factoring in washing and drying, reusable nappies are still the best nappy choice for the environment
  • Reusables use 97.5% less raw materials than disposables - 2.5 years of disposables use 128.36Kg  v reusables use 3.22Kg
  • If every child in the UK in nappies used reusable nappies instead of single-use nappies it would save the equivalent of 700 million car miles of CO2 – that’s nearly 3,000 journeys to the moon in a car!

image comparing 10 days of disposables and full time reusable nappies

Things can only get greener!

We are very grateful to Defra for commissioning and publishing this important research. We always knew reusables were better for the environment and now the UK Government does too!

As renewable energy gains more and more market share, reusable nappies will only improve in environmental performance compared to single- use disposables.

We need the Government to act now and actively promote reusable nappies.

What about "eco disposables"?

Ultimately the impacts are going to be similar to "standard" disposables as the manufacturing and logistical process is much the same.

Whilst there may be variance in the CO2 impact upstream with raw materials (either way) overall resource consumption is the same.

It should also be considered the additional impacts such as crop displacement (from food production), land use, pesticide use etc.

At end of life they are either going to be landfilled or incinerated just the same as regular disposables.

One important factor is that unfortunately eco disposables quite often they end up contaminating domestic recycling as people are confused and think they can go into the recycling bin. This mistake and contamination results in even more waste that can’t be reprocessed and has to be landfilled or burnt.

Read the full report & make an informed choice for your baby's future

Read the full Life Cycle assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies 2023 and discover the environmental impacts of disposable and reusable nappies in 2023. Make an informed choice for your baby's future

image comparing disposables and reusables needed for a year