Reducing disposable nappy use in Gloucestershire

In order to reduce the quantity of disposable nappies being landfilled or incinerated, Resource Futures has been running a real nappy project and incentive scheme for Gloucestershire County Council since 2008.

Two outreach workers promote the cost savings and environmental benefits of using real nappies to new parents as well as administering a real nappy incentive scheme for the council.

Objectives

The UK disposes of around 3 billion disposable nappies each year, representing an estimated 2-3% of all household waste, according to WRAP. For each child going full-time in real nappies, around 5,000 single-use nappies can be avoided.

Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) is keen to reduce the tonnage of nappy waste sent for disposal every year. This is done through a practical on-the-ground project to enable behaviour change amongst parents as well as imparting knowledge about the benefits and practicalities to health professionals across the county.

Approach


This is one of Resource Futures most well established, and long-term projects. Our focus is on the following key messages and activities:

  • Co-ordinating a money-back incentive scheme (£30 voucher) to encourage parents to switch to real nappies, administered from our Bristol office.
  • Provision of knowledgeable outreach workers who explain the environmental and financial benefits: parents can typically save up to £1,000 during the time their child is in nappies.
  • Demonstrations of the large array of nappy types available.
  • Help and advice to enable parents to choose the best nappies for their situation, by phone, via e-mail and in person.
  • Ability for people to try real nappies before buying, with well stocked Loan Kits.
  • Building strong links with health care professionals such as midwives and with a large number of baby group organisers.
  • Dissemination of publicity across the County through printed materials, social media and events.
  • A Glos Nappies Facebook page group plus a Glos Nappies Facebook Group, used as a discussion forum and a place where second-hand nappies can be bought and sold, as well as Instagram.

Outcomes

In 2019-2020, engagement work resulted in:

  • 213 groups, talks and events attended across the county by our outreach workers.
  • 490 people making the switch to real nappies as a result of the incentive scheme.
  • 34 parents using the Real Nappy Loan kits.

The team undertake an online survey twice a year to follow up with those who have redeemed an incentive voucher. Results from the June 2020 survey showed:

  • 91% said they were getting on very well or quite well with their real nappies.
  • 80% of respondents had recommended real nappies to a friend or relative.
  • 76% gave environmental concerns as the main motivator for using real nappies.

In 2016 we received further funding from GCC to support Stroud District Council during its service change, which included reductions to residual waste capacity. This enabled Resource Futures to run an entirely new and exciting initiative which was comprised of:

  • The design and manufacture of custom-made, locally designed ‘Stroud & Proud’ nappies.
  • 1,000 given away (free) to every baby born in the district.
  • Support from local midwives to distribute and promote the initiative.
  • Monthly ‘Nappuccino’ sessions for recipients.
  • Social media advertising to support the initiative.

Based on the ongoing success of this work, Resource Futures has just been awarded a further contract to continue with the real nappy project in Gloucestershire until 2024.

Project Information

Services involved

Communications

Waste prevention, reuse and recycling

Team involved

Sally Scholefield
Consultant / Designer

Kirstie Clarke
Real Nappy Project, Gloucestershire

Lucy Hague
Real Nappy Project, Gloucestershire

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