It is estimated around 800 million disposable nappies end up in landfills nationally every year in Australia*. These nappies need to be exposed to oxygen and sunlight to decompose. They do not break down well in landfill and can take anywhere from 150-500 years to biodegrade.
Some of the biggest contributors to this problem are childcare facilities generating a large volume of nappies. There are over 8,266 childcare facilities in Australia^, changing 4-5 nappies per child each day.
The good news is the Tackle Lab team decided that this is the kind of problem we like to tackle. The reason it is appealing is – there are no straight forward solutions and there are many barriers to overcome, plus we love a good challenge. So we have been busy chipping away at this problem with the very big plan to help childcare facilities divert some of this problematic waste stream from landfill.
This whole stinky problem got us thinking ... What if the waste of one business could be a resource for another? Known as ‘industrial ecology’ or ‘industrial symbiosis’, where one company’s trash becomes another’s treasure. This is a circular economy based system in which waste is reused in new processes. This idea led us to look into the idea of nappies as a resource and the idea of composting them.
So our journey started by conducting many hours of research and holding countless meetings. Along the way we learnt about the success of the Bega Valley trial in 2019 and thought that this is probably the best place to start. After speaking with the Joley Vidau from Bega Valley Shire Council and other leaders in this space, we were able to look at the system as a whole. Focusing on the current barriers and pain points for childcare facilities is where we started, with the aim to find a compostable nappy solution to suit their needs.
It was decided that the best place to start rolling out a compostable nappy trial similar to Bega Valley Shire Council would be the City of Sydney. We knew funding would be necessary for this to work and got busy on pursuing an environmental performance innovation grant. Thankfully the hard work paid off and the City of Sydney approved the grant to help us with this project.
Stay tuned for further developments on the Tackle Lab Compostable Nappy Trial in the City of Sydney.