New campaign launched to stop disposable nappies contaminating recycling

National survey reveals that more than one million UK nappy users are putting them in their recycling bin.

Buckinghamshire Council has joined forces with environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and other local authorities across the country to launch a new campaign aimed at stopping the millions of disposable nappies that are contaminating recycling.

The campaign comes after a new survey revealed that seven per cent of nappy users – parents, grandparents and carers – wrongly put their disposable nappies in with their recycling, which equates to more than *one million people. Locally, over 13% of lorry loads collected for recycling in Buckinghamshire contain nappies.

The national survey, carried out by YouGov, also revealed that younger people, aged 18-24 were more likely to put them in their recycling bin (15%) and more than one in ten Londoners who used disposable nappies (11%) tried to recycle them.

Now, Buckinghamshire Council is trying to reach nappy users with a new campaign that has been tested with them and offers a clear message that disposable nappies should never go in their recycling.

The campaign is fronted by ‘Ted’ and will be appearing on billboards around the country and on social media to drive the message home. More information about how to dispose of nappies and nappy alternatives is available on the Recycle for Buckinghamshire website.

Cllr Bill Chapple OBE, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “Buckinghamshire residents are great recyclers - we're now recycling around 54% of our waste so I'd like to say thank you for all of your efforts.

“While the vast majority of residents are really clued up on how to sort their recycling, unfortunately a few are getting it wrong and nappies are finding their way into the recycling bin.

“Putting the wrong items in your recycling bin can contaminate good quality, recyclable material.

“Nappies have to be extracted from the rest of the recyclables, this is an unpleasant job which often has to be done painstakingly by hand.

“The word recycling means to use it again; what part of a nappy would we want to use again? So please remember that nappies are rubbish. Used or not used, they cannot be recycled.

“If you aren’t sure which item goes into which bin please use our helpful Waste Wizard."

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Buckinghamshire Council to tackle this issue. Recycling contamination, including disposable nappies, costs local authorities hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and stops many tonnes of waste from being recycled.

“The message to everyone who uses disposable nappies is clear – nappies never go in your recycling.”

Keep Britain Tidy is also calling on nappy manufacturers to label their products as non-recyclable to help avoid confusion.

Allison added: “We know from our research that there is confusion among the public about recycling – our survey has found that a third of nappy users admit to being confused - so we call on all manufacturers of disposable nappies to use eye-catching labelling that clearly communicates their product cannot be recycled.

“Our campaign features a new symbol that we would like to see carried on every pack of nappies so that there is clear and consistent advice to the public, many of whom are trying to do the right thing with what they perceive, incorrectly and tragically, is a recyclable product.”