Supermarkets ignoring 'green' nappies

BIG supermarkets have today been accused of trading the environment for profits by refusing to join the drive to replace disposable nappies with washable ones.

BIG supermarkets have today been accused of trading the environment for profits by refusing to join the drive to replace disposable nappies with washable ones.

Every year in Suffolk around 35,000 tonnes of disposable nappies are buried in landfill sites costing taxpayers in the county around £500,000.

But despite a national drive to encourage new parents to use the latest washable cloth nappies big supermarkets Tesco and Asda refuse to stock them at all and Sainsbury's only have them in a fraction of their stores.

Rachel Turner, chair of Ipswich Real Nappy Network, a voluntary organisation set up to promote the use of the environmentally-friendly nappies, said: "It is disappointing that supermarkets all sell disposable nappies. They are putting business before the environment.

"It is not very encouraging that the big supermarkets do not sell cloth nappies - it would be a real boost if they did as more people would use them."

It has been estimated that disposable nappies take 400 years to decompose and in parts of Ipswich they make up around 12per cent of all household rubbish.

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A spokeswoman for Tesco said: "We do not stock washable nappies as there is not considered to be the customer demand for them. If there was we would look at the situation."

And a spokeswoman for Asda said almost exactly the same thing. "We do not sell washable nappies. The reason is our customers do not tell us they want to buy them."

Across the UK 8 million nappies are thrown away every day and these nappies make up 50pc of the waste from each one-baby household.

But home-laundered nappies can save parents £500 on the cost of keeping a baby in nappies and £30 can be claimed back from the initial cost from Suffolk County Council.

The only one of the big three supermarkets to sell reusable nappies at all is Sainsbury's which sells them in 83 of its 500 stores - again because demand is not considered to be great enough to stock them in all stores.

However, Mrs Turner said in her experience this was nonsense. "There is definitely a demand for them. Awareness is growing and more people want them.

"If big supermarkets stocked them it would be great," she added.

Emma Dixon, waste minimisation officer for Suffolk County Council, agreed. "We are finding the demand is there and is growing. Councils all over are heavily promoting reusable nappies and stores need to be involved in their local community," she said.

"We are trying to get people to lead the way and be more environmentally friendly."

And the Environment Agency is also backing the call for washable nappies to help ease the demand on landfill sites calling washable nappies "a more sustainable solution".

March 29 to April 4 is Real Nappy Week and Ipswich Real Nappy Network is holding a Natural Baby Fayre in the Corn Exchange, Ipswich on Saturday April 3 from 10am until 4pm.

For more information and a list of where to buy cloth nappies contact the Ipswich Real Nappy Network on 0870 246 1693 or visit the website at or Suffolk County Council on 01473 583253.

N Do you think big supermarkets should sell reusable nappies? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email or visit the forum at