Vanuatu to give disposable diapers the flush

Disposable diapers pose an environmental nuisance as they are lined with non-biodegradable plastic and use the chemical sodium p
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

© 2019 AFP

Citation: Vanuatu to give disposable diapers the flush (2019, February 21) retrieved 23 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-vanuatu-disposable-diapers-flush.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
153 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

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