Vanuatu to give disposable diapers the flush

February 21, 2019
Disposable diapers pose an environmental nuisance as they are lined with non-biodegradable plastic and use the chemical sodium polyacrylate as an absorbent

The Pacific nation of Vanuatu has announced plans to ban disposable diapers in a move it says will significantly reduce pollution.

Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu announced the ban at a conference in Port Vila this week, saying plastic cutlery, polystyrene cups, plastic drinks stirrers and types of food packaging would also be outlawed.

He said research showed disposable diapers—or nappies as they are known outside North America—were the largest single item of household in the capital.

"Eliminating this item alone will disproportionately reduce plastic waste," he tweeted.

Vanuatu is one of several Pacific nations severely affected by and prides itself on showing environmental leadership.

Last year it became one of the first countries in the world to ban single-use plastic bags.

The nappy ban, which still needs final approval, is scheduled to begin on December 1 this year.

Disposable diapers pose an environmental nuisance as they are lined with non-biodegradable and use the chemical sodium polyacrylate as an absorbent.

The they contain also leaches harmful chemicals into the environment, rather than going through the sewerage system to minimise its impact.

Critics say in addition to being a waste problem, the nappy manufacturing process also contributes to .

However, parents find them far more convenient than old-fashioned cloth nappies, which have to be washed and dried.

Britain's Environment Secretary Michael Gove was forced to rule out a nappy ban last year after making off-the-cuff remarks seen as paving the way for prohibiting their use.

Parents groups described the potential ban as a backward step for women, who were most likely to have to shoulder the labour-intensive process of cleaning reusable diapers.

The environmental group Worldwatch Institute estimated in 2007 that 450 billion nappies were used globally every year.

They are also big business.

A report by US market research firm Grand View Research last year said the global baby market was worth $45.08 billion in 2016 and would grow to $64.62 billion by 2022 amid rising demand from emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil.

Modern reusable nappies are easier to use than the traditional white towelling square, with many featuring biodegradable inserts and velcro fastening rather than safety pins.

Explore further: Nappy change: Dutch to turn diapers into furniture

Related Stories

French watchdog sounds alert over chemicals in diapers

January 23, 2019

A French public health watchdog warned Wednesday about the risks of several chemicals found in disposable nappies, leading the government to demand that manufacturers withdraw them from their products.

Britain fights disposable 'nappies'

February 14, 2006

Local officials across Britain are offering incentives to parents who stop using disposable diapers, or "nappies," that are swamping landfill sites.

Learning the cue for baby poo

January 8, 2018

Changing nappies is probably one of the most unpleasant things that goes along with having babies. It also creates an enormous amount of waste to be disposed of, but there is another way.

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

guptm
not rated yet Feb 21, 2019
It means that there has been unprecedented manufacturing of unsustainable, non-Eco-friendly daily use material since about 150 years. Now that we know it, can we ban all such production?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.