Washable nappies- a new way forward

Single use, disposable nappies take an estimated 450 years to degrade. Why is that figure an estimate? Because no disposable nappy that has ever been used has yet degraded. That is, every single nappy that has ever been used is still sitting in landfill and the problem gets greater every year. Our values include reduce, reuse and recycle for our children and their planet, and this is a mission we take seriously. Without more people taking action on this issue, the waste we are generating will not be a problem for us, at least not yet, but it will be a problem for our children and indeed their children and grandchildren.

If we look at an average of 6.5 changes per day, for 2.5 years (birth to average potty training age) that would amount to 5,475 single use nappies added to landfill per child. We are acutely aware of this problem as we see it multiplied many times over in our settings. In fact across Tops we estimate that the children in our settings alone generate more than 250,000 disposable nappies per year.

So what can we do? The good news is that even a little reduction per child helps a great deal. If you rely on the convenience and labour saving benefits of disposable nappies, there would still be a powerful benefit to children using washable nappies at nursery. If only one nappy per day is changed to a washable nappy, this will still save roughly 912 nappies per child from ending in landfill. So even if you were continue with disposables at home, you would still have made a powerful contribution to the planet and its future.

In response to this problem Tops is introducing a washable nappy programme. This will mean that all children use washable nappies whilst at nursery either provided by parents, or Tops will provide these and also launder them for a charge. We have built a new eco laundry hub, powered by solar energy and using the latest rainwater/grey water retrieval systems. Ambient heat exchange dryers, imported from Scandinavia, use the heat generated by the washing machine operation to dry the nappies. This laundry hub operates to commercial laundry standards to ensure that both the highest standards of cleaning, and the best in commercial laundry practices, are delivered in the most eco-sustainable way possible.  To fund this we will be applying a charge of £1 per day. This cost has been carefully calculated on the basis that all children in nappies participate. If we were to waive this at all, the cost would rise significantly and would probably not be sustainable. As all children benefit from a future free from waste we have chosen to apply this charge to all nappy wearing children. This only applies to nurseries currently taking part in the programme, please speak to a member of staff to find out more.

At the end of each day your child will be put in the nappy provided by you to return home. This ensures that we circulate the nappies within the nursery system and can maintain control of sanitisation and laundry protocols.

Of course if you already use washable nappies there is no need to change a thing, we will continue to return your own nappies to you for laundering at home and no additional charge will apply!

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more information, or contact us if you have any additional questions or comments!

Posted in: General, Sustainability