Below is our official response given to the media regarding our liners.

At Real Nappies, we are committed to providing high quality, sustainable and ethical products. We believe in cloth nappies as a better option for parents as they are more environmentally friendly, more economical and better for the health of our future generations than disposable nappies.

There are five ways to deal with baby excrement. In order from best to worst in terms of effects on the environment, local resources, the health of the baby, and cheapest for parents, these are:

  • EC (Elimination Communication);
  • Cloth nappies;
  • Cloth nappies with a biodegradable liner;
  • Cloth nappies with a microfleece liner; and
  • Disposable nappies.

Of these option, EC is the most parent intensive and a lot of parents would have trouble achieving EC full time. Therefore, we promote the second two options as being the ideal.

The worst option is disposable nappies. Among other disadvantages, disposable nappies contain a wide variety of chemicals (some of which can be quite toxic), are single use plastic and must be disposed of in landfill. While we promote the use of cloth nappies, we recognise there is sometimes a need for disposable nappies, such as travel or when daycare providers require disposable nappies and there are certainly some brands that are more sustainable and environmentally friendly than others. However, every year around 600 million disposable nappies are added to landfill in New Zealand (that’s over 10 million a week), which means that from the point of view of using up local authority resources and rate payer money they are contributing far more than any of the other four options.

If local authorities are concerned with issues arising from using nappies on babies and how they affect their time, money and resources, then they may do well to focus on dealing with the issue of the large number of disposable nappies used. In Australia, more and more councils are offering rebates to parents who use cloth nappies as an incentive to reduce disposable nappy use. Other countries around the globe are looking at ways to reduce the cost of cloth nappies to their citizens or making disposable nappies harder to obtain and use and in some cases looking at banning them entirely, while New Zealand currently appears to be doing very little.

The second to last option is cloth nappies with a fleece liner. We put this as second to last because the problem with fleece liners is that they are a form of plastic and end up in our oceans. A large percentage of plastics found in the ocean comes from microplastics that are shed from synthetic fabrics, such as microfleece, polarfleece, polyester, nylon etc during washing. When washed, the fibres shed from these fabrics are so small that they can easily pass through the wastewater treatment plants and into the ocean.

In fact, Real Nappies are designed so that the outer cover does not need to be washed after every use, cutting down on the amount of washing needed compared to other cloth nappy brands.

Therefore, we believe the most sustainable, environmentally friendly option with the least use of rate payers money and council resources is to use cloth nappies with the option of using biodegradable liners. It is important to note that our liners are entirely optional. Our liners are made from corn starch and are designed to break down in a sewage system. If Penny placed a liner in still tap water, which is chlorinated, this would not simulate a wastewater treatment system. The breakdown of waste in the sewage system and treatment plants involves microbial action and incorporates a wide range of inputs with mechanical mixing.

As an online business, the way we get information to our customers is through our website and our newsletters. We bought the business in 2017, and the product page for our liners has stated for as long as we have had this business that customers need to check first that their plumbing, septic tank or local council are happy for the liners to be flushed prior to flushing. Therefore, it depends on the plumbing system and treatment plant and local authorities whether the liners should be flushed.


You can read even more at our Blog - All About Liners