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Updated Life Cycle Study on Reusable and Disposable Nappies (co-funding contribution to joint EA, Defra, WRAP project) - WR0705

The original LCA study considered three different nappy systems: disposable nappies; home laundered terries; and commercially laundered pre-folds. This project is to update the study by assessing the changes in the environmental profile of disposable and reusable nappies that have resulted from developments in the manufacture and use of disposable and reusable nappy systems in the UK since 2002/03.

Developments and issues to be addressed include: further weight reductions of disposable nappies; the inclusion of shaped nappies; the changed energy efficiency and different usage of washing machines and driers; and changes to waste disposal options, including the use of reusable nappies for a second child.

The project is jointly funded by the Environment Agency (EA), Defra and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
The aim of the new study is to produce a life cycle assessment comparing the environmental impact of the most commonly used modern re-usable and disposable nappies and to assess the contribution that behaviour variation can make to this assessment.

The objectives of the study were:

- to update the previous study with changes in the market place between 2003/03 and 2006, and to include an assessment of the effects of a range of behavioural assumptions on the life cycle environmental impacts of the reusable nappy types and to compare these with each other and with modern disposable nappies;

- to compile a detailed life cycle inventory of the environmental burdens associated with the production, use and disposal of shaped and prefold reusable nappies and disposable nappies;

- to use the life cycle inventory data to compare the environmental impacts arising from reusable and disposable nappies under the various scenarios cosidered

Note: Prefold nappies had to be excluded from the project, as no updated manufacturing data was forthcoming.
Project Documents
• Final Report : An updated lifecycle assessment study for disposable and reusable nappies   (170k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2007

Cost: £17,552
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Environment Agency - England
Economic Research              
Environmental Effects              
Environmental Impact              
Environmental Impacts              
Environmental Protection              
Market Transformation              
Sustainable Consumption and Production              
Understanding the true cost of waste management              
Waste Management              
Fields of Study
Waste Management