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Re-usable versus Disposable Nappies

Disposable Nappies are expensive for parents to buy. It is reported that each child goes through approximately 5,000 nappies before they are toilet trained. There is a real case for parents to turn to the use of re-usable nappies instead of using disposable.

In 2016, the Council did some research on the mainland to find out what the average contents were of grey bins. We learnt that disposable nappies accounted for 2.5% of the overall waste stream, but in some areas, when looked at individually, this was as high as 5%.

In 2022 there were 163 births recorded in Orkney. If you take the figure of 5,000 nappies used by each child on average to the point of potty-training ending, that equates to approximately 815,000 disposable nappies entering the waste stream for disposal in 2022 in Orkney (less those who use re-usable).

We know that the average weight of a used nappy is 230g. If this is converted to kg and we know the cost per kg to dispose of any material, it can be worked out that it cost Orkney Islands Council in the region of £42,000 to dispose of used nappies in 2022 alone. It costs parents too – apparently about £730!

The Orkney Nappy Library

The Orkney Nappy Library was a project re-launched by Orkney Zerowaste to offer impartial advice and support about buying and using real or reusable nappies. This is now administered by a new group with similar focus.

It does this by providing:

  • Information and advice at events throughout the year.
  • Demonstrations to parents and parents-to-be using samples of various nappy types.
  • A Re-usable Nappy Library from which you can borrow nappies.
  • A network for re-usable nappy users to socialise and share experiences through events and online.

Visit the Orkney Nappy Library Facebook Page or email at

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