Dirty nappies cause a stink (WA)

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Friday 22 May 2015




Western Australian mums and dads are driving a smelly litter trend with disposable nappies accounting for more than 12 per cent of miscellaneous rubbish.

Car parks and highways were the most common dumping grounds for dirty nappies, according to the  Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index interim report[i].

It found used nappies comprised more than 2 of nearly 19 litres per 1000m2 of miscellaneous rubbish tossed in public places across Western Australia.

“It’s a shocking example for parents to be setting their children,’’ said Keep Australia Beautiful Chief Executive Officer Peter McLean.

“Presumably, many soiled nappies are thrown out of cars because, like cigarette butts, they smell.

“Apart from being unhygienic, it is bad for the environment with some disposable nappies taking up to 500 years to biodegrade[ii].

“Parents are not considering the fact that it will be their own children who will have to clean up environmental damage caused by dirty nappies left to rot on roadsides and in other public places.’’

Nationally, the National Litter Index interim report revealed disposable nappies accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the 152 litres/1000m2 of miscellaneous litter surveyed in November, 2014.  Dirty nappies were the third biggest problem after construction materials and tyres.

Mr McLean said while the number of dumped nappies was not as large as other litter such as cigarette butts and fast food packaging, the issue was sizeable.

“Disposable nappies are now so absorbent that even small varieties swell to become relatively large and heavy,’’ he said.

“They take up more room in landfill which is why they are rapidly becoming an emerging litter trend when it comes to volume of waste.”

Mr McLean urged mums and dads to do the right thing.

“We can only speculate that the nappies are thrown out because they’re offensive but surely it’s not too much to ask parents to travel with spare plastic bags which they can use to store the soiled nappy until they find a bin,’’ he said.


  • Australians use around 5.6 million disposable nappies per day.
  • Two billion used disposable nappies go into landfill sites in Australia each year.
  • Scientists estimate disposable nappies can take up to 500 years to decompose.
  • In Australia, 95% of parents use disposable nappies[iv]

Media contact WA: Mr Mel Hay, Chair, Keep Australia Beautiful Council 0429 106 273

About Keep Australia Beautiful: Keep Australia Beautiful is the national peak body on litter prevention. With more than four decades of experience in engaging Australians to care for their local environments, (not to be confused with Clean Up Australia Day) KAB Programs include, Tidy Towns, Clean Beaches, Sustainable Cities National Litter Index, Clean Schools, Adopt a Spot, and Keep Australia Beautiful Week in August.

The KAB National website is www.kab.org.au where all information on the organisation can be accessed including the National Litter Index, which is Australia’s only independent nation-wide litter research.

For more information on Western Australian programs and news visit www.kabc.wa.gov.au

[i] MacGregor Tan Research (Feb 2015). National Litter Index – Annual Results November 2014 Tabulations. Keep Australia Beautiful.

[ii] www.australianscience.com.au/environmental-science/disposable-nappies-are-they-stinking-up-our-planet/

[iii] www.australianscience.com.au/environmental-science/disposable-nappies-are-they-stinking-up-our-planet/

[iv] http://www.lakemac.com.au/downloads/0F1CD3DB06502C91CA208F1836CCBA94D34C7380.pdf

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