A disposable nappy consists of an absorbent pad squeezed in between two sheets of nonwoven material. The pad is specially designed to absorb and retain body fluids, and the nonwoven material gives the nappy a comfortable shape and helps prevent leakage.
Disposable nappies are used widely across the country and according to statistics from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and disposable nappy manufacturer Kimberly-Clark, almost 800 million disposables are used in Australia every year totaling 111,220 tonnes of solid waste. Those 800 million nappies add up to tons of plastic a year and tons of wood pulp. Each nappy has an outer layer of waterproof polypropylene and an inner layer of fluff made from wood pulp plus super-slurper sodium polyacrylate that can hold a hundred times its weight in water.
Some disposable nappies are advertised as biodegradable and claim to pose less of a solid-waste problem than regular disposables. Their waterproof cover contains a cornstarch derivative that decomposes into water and carbon dioxide when exposed to water and air. Unfortunately, modern landfills are airtight and little, if any, degradation occurs. Biodegradable nappies, therefore, are not significantly different from other disposables.
One of the first decisions you’ll make as a new parent, is what type of nappies you are going to use with your baby, who will be in nappies around the clock for up to two years. Disposable nappies have been around since the sixties. The popularity has grown over the years, and they have seen many changes. The common reasons to use disposable nappies are as follows: