Disposable Nappies- The Statistics

Disposable Nappies- The Statistics

February 04, 2020

Here are the hard and fast facts on single-use disposable nappies. You might need to sit down for this. Each disposable nappy is going to last for an estimated 400-500 years in landfill. That means that the first Pampers nappies ever used the 1960’s are still out there somewhere, in landfill, with another 400 or so years to go.

When you do some very basic calculations, you are left with a sinking sensation that we might actually be buried under a mountain of disposable nappies at some stage, in the not too distant future. 

With approximately 60,000 babies born in Ireland each year, and the average age of potty training is about 2.5 years (many much older) you will have a minimum of 150,000 children in nappies in Ireland at any one time. If those 150,000 babies go through 8 nappies per day, that would be a whopping 438,000,000 disposable nappies per year going into landfill in Ireland alone. That would be the equivalent of an olympic sized swimming pool being filled with dirty nappies every week or so in Ireland alone. Now if you are talking about 438,000,000 nappies EVERY YEAR, and each of those disposable nappies lasting up to 500 years, can you imagine what sort of situation we will be in in even just 50 years time?

Disposable nappy mountain

I know I have generalised the numbers there, as not all children will use 8 nappies per day. But very young babies will often go through many more. Sometimes the nappy might only be on a newborn a matter of minutes and they will have pooped again. Not a huge amount of poop, but enough to require a whole new nappy. Many children don’t potty train until they are closer to 3 years, and children with additional needs may require nappies for many more years than that. So on those additional elements mentioned, I still believe 8 nappies per day average is a reasonable one to use for this calculation.

The UK and USA disposable nappy statistics are actually too frightening and depressing to mention at the moment, so we will stick with the less dramatic, but still pretty shocking Irish figures.

Thankfully the popularity of reusable cloth nappies is growing, but we are talking about a tiny percentage of babies being in cloth nappies, so we have a long long LONG way to go.

For those thinking of switching to reusable cloth nappies, it can often be a minefield of information for what should be a simple subject. With so many different types, styles and brands of cloth nappies, starting out really can be quite daunting. Quite a simple switch to a reusable nappy can be made unnecessarily complicated. Acronyms never help the situation! We aim to simplify the process as much as possible. If it is cloth nappies that you are interested in, you have come to the right place! This All About Cloth Nappies Blog should hopefully help you starting out on your journey.

Reusable cloth nappies are usually dismissed as being too much hassle (usually a statement made by people who have never even tried them to know!). We aim to encourage you to give it a go, and most people tend to be very pleasantly surprised. The planet will thank you for it, and so will your babies bum!


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