Nappy subsidy smells a bit iffy

28/09/2010

The Waitaki District Council is going to subsidise cloth napkins in an effort to cut down the amount of disposable nappies going into council landfills.

Solid waste officer Gerry O’Neill last week said that over a 12-month period, starting on October 22, new parents in the district would be offered cloth-nappy starter packs at a heavily discounted price.

“We have managed to secure a really good deal with four different suppliers, and when combined with a subsidy from the council, parents will be able to buy a cloth-nappy starter pack valued at more than $100 for just $10,” he said.

The council had more than 12 tonnes of nappies and sanitary waste going to the Oamaru landfill every week.

Any measure that reduced that was worthwhile in helping extend the life of the landfill and reducing its operation costs.

Let’s start by giving them points for talking about parents and not just mothers who usually get saddled with anything to do with napkins.

Let’s also acknowledge that waste reduction is a worthy aim.

But that isn’t enough to stop me thinking something about this nappy subsidy smells a bit iffy.

It sounds good in theory but will it work in practice?

Just $10 isn’t a big investment in cloth nappies. That should ensure a reasonable uptake, but who’s going to make sure they get used even some of the time?

What’s to stop someone buying a starter pack and selling the nappies. Anything more than $10 would be a profit for the seller and a bargain for the buyer.

Twelve tonnes of nappies and sanitary waste sounds like a lot. But what sort of reduction will this subsidy result in and at what cost to the ratepayer?

I wonder if the council looked at the option of composting instead which Envirocomp appears to do successfully?


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