Dirty nappies cause a stink (QLD)

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Friday 22 May 2015




Queensland mums and dads are responsible for a smelly litter trend with disposable nappies accounting for 15 per cent of miscellaneous rubbish.

Beaches and car parks were the most common dumping ground for dirty nappies in Queensland, according to the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index interim report[i].

It found used nappies comprised more than 4.5 of nearly 30 litres/1000m2 of miscellaneous rubbish tossed in public places across  the state.

“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 tossed out of cars because, like cigarette butts, they smell.

“And they’re left behind at beaches because parents assume they will biodegrade. Apart from being unhygienic and extremely unpleasant for other beach-goers, it is bad for the environment – some disposable nappies take 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 beaches 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 a sizeable one.

“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 called on Queensland parents to do the right thing.

“We can only speculate that the nappies are discarded 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 in Australia per year.
  • Scientists estimate disposable nappies can take up to 500 years to decompose.
  • In Australia, 95% of parents use disposable nappies[iv]

Media contact: Andrew Trewin – Sequel PR 3251 8138 or 0403 090 915.

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 Sustainable Cities, Tidy Towns, Clean Beaches, National Litter Index, Eco-Schools, Adopt a Patch, 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.

[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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