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June 2, 2023

Will Tweed Shire join the reusable nappy brigade?

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1.5 billion plastic containing nappies go into landfill each year in Australia.

Babies require a nappy, well most of us use nappies when we have babies, with the result being that 1.5 billion plastic-containing nappies go into landfill each year in Australia. 

Councillor, Dr Nola Firth, is putting forward a notice of motion (NoM) that Tweed Shire Council (TSC) join the reusable nappy rebate scheme at this Thursday’s council meeting (18 May).

‘The rebate program aims to reduce the amount of plastic nappies going into landfill by helping people to use non-disposable nappies,’ explained Cr Firth. 

‘This reusable nappy scheme is offered by many councils in Australia, and I am hoping we will soon be one of those councils. Ours would be a two-year trial whereby residents would receive funding support to buy reusable nappy equipment -probably between $100 and $150 per applicant. Funding for the initiative would come from the Resource Recovery budget (not the General Fund) so there is no impact on the fund supplied by rates income.’

Cr Firth highlighted that TSC has a zero-waste policy and that disposable nappies are one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. 

‘Those nappies that don’t go to landfill may end up in our rivers or oceans. “Ecofriendly” disposable nappies are also problematic as they usually still contain some plastic and don’t break down well in landfill,’ she told The Echo

‘Nappies are often rolled up tight and put in plastic bags when being disposed of, which further adds to plastic waste and prevents the necessary access to oxygen for breakdown. There’s about one cup of crude oil in each nappy and breakdown takes hundreds of years.’

The NoM proposes that the council allocate $10,000 towards the program in the draft 2023/24 budget for a two-year trail of the program. The trial would be promoted to Tweed residents and a report due back at the end of the 2024/25 financial year.

‘The scheme usually includes the provision of information on ease of use of these kinds of nappies and how to carry out best practice environmental care when washing them,’ said Cr Firth.

‘With a rebate starter it’s also much cheaper to use reusable nappies, so the scheme will have double benefit – help with the bottom line so needed by many people at present and a significant decrease in landfill and plastic proliferation. 

‘Plastic pollution is a huge problem and we as a local Council need to begin to address it.’

You can attend the TSC meeting this Thursday, 18 May at the Murwillumbah Council Chambers from 3.30pm or tune in online here

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