by Stephanie Collins

What to do with nappies?

An estimated 95% of Australian families are using disposable nappies, with over 3.75 million individual disposal nappies used daily in Australia and New Zealand ( With so many of us relying on disposable nappies disposing of them can be a daunting task, and the quick answer is… throw them out. Disposable nappies belong in the general waste bin, and never in your recyclables.

Unfortunately, disposable nappies and incontinence products are neither recyclable nor compostable. Disposable nappies mistakenly placed in recycling bins can be a health hazard to workers who sort the recycling and must be removed as they will contaminate recycling and FOGO waste.

If you are concerned about the smell of nappies in your bin before your collection day, there are ways you can reduce these odours:

  • Emptying the nappies contents into the toilet before disposal, please remember not to flush any liners, inserts, or nappies away as they can cause clogs
  • Commercially available nappy bags and scented/deodorising sprays can be effective but may produce further waste.
  • Household products such as baking soda or kitty litter can also be sprinkled onto nappies, in bins, or kept in cloth bags/socks secured inside bins to help control offensive odours of all types.
  • Store bins in a cool shaded area to avoid heating the nappies and other waste
  • Regular cleaning of the inside of bins is also helpful in controlling smells and maintaining sanitary conditions for waste collection and management.

Choosing Cloth Nappies

One child will use a potential of 4,000-6,000 disposable nappies, which can cost up to $3,000; and each nappy takes up to 500 years to break down in landfill. Making them not only costly for you but also to the environment.

Washable and reusable cloth nappies can save waste and money, making them an ecofriendly and cost-effective alternative. Modern cloth nappies are shaped and fitted for babies’ comfort and secure use and come in a few varieties, while terrycloth nappies are cheap but can require some practise to use correctly.

Some things to keep in mind when deciding which nappies are best for you and your child:

  • You can use both cloth and disposable nappies depending on your needs, even some use of cloth nappies can reduce disposable nappy waste
  • Both disposable and reusable liners are available for cloth nappies
  • Nappy libraries are also available if you only want to try them out or to save costs on new nappies as your child grows
  • Many local Councils have workshops and rebates available for cloth nappies
  • There are hidden costs with both options, including wipes, creams, and detergents

Coth nappy rebates

Some councils provide rebates, which may vary from council to council but those eligible can receive 50%, up to $100, back on funds used on costs to purchase or rent modern cloth nappies. To be eligible you are usually required to attend a modern cloth nappy workshop. Councils may also provide start up kits and additional helpful information.
Workshops cover the basics of cloth nappies from types and materials to fitting and washing. Check out your Council’s website for times and bookings or visit The Nappy Guru or Recycle Right’s event page to see if there are any workshops in your area.

For more information:


Stephanie is a recent graduate of a Master of Science Communication from the University of Western Australia. She also has a Bachelor of Zoology, has lived in four states and territories across Australia, and is always amazed by Australia’s unique ecosystems. She loves using her communication skills to encourage people to explore and care for the environment.