The UK throws away nearly three billion nappies a year, 90% of which go through household waste streams meaning they end up either in incineration or landfill. The Nappy Alliance commissioned The Whitehouse Consultancy to promote to government, politicians and the media the vital importance of combatting single-use nappy waste in the UK and encouraging the use of reusable nappies. A key element of the campaign was to create the political will to encourage more wide-spread adoption of the reusable nappy schemes which are currently run successfully in a small number of councils across the country.
In order to achieve this, Whitehouse undertook a stakeholder engagement programme arguing that reducing the country’s reliance on disposable nappies and increasing the use of reusable nappies brings widespread environmental and financial benefits. The engagement programme covered influencers and decision makers in Westminster, central government and local government. Whitehouse produced a narrative explaining the damaging implications of disposable nappy waste and accentuating the environmental and economic advantages of reusable nappies for government, families and single parents. Whitehouse established a range of private meetings with influential stakeholders including the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Prevention of Plastic Waste, Number 10 Downing Street and the Labour frontbench. This enabled us to develop a bank political advocates from all parties who could champion our messages and positions in Westminster and across local councils. Finally, Whitehouse have worked closely with David Linden MP to put together a Nappies (Environmental Standards) Bill and coordinated its launch at the Hackney Real Nappies Network. The bill contains the Nappy Alliance key policy asks of government and resulted in prominently placed media coverage in trade and national press.
Our sustained engagement with local government and Westminster has ensured that awareness and understanding of the need to reduce disposable nappy waste and promote reusable nappies has increased considerably through all levels of government. The activity that Whitehouse generated resulted in several private discussions with senior officials at DEFRA and the DEFRA ministerial team where we have been able to articulate the case for new government policy. Based on the responses we have received in these meetings and to numerous letters sent from local councilors and MPs, it is clear that government thinking is shifting with an increased openness to introducing new initiatives on nappies. The Nappies (Environmental Standards) Bill will increase the campaign’s momentum and there is significant potential for government to back the bill and bring in the changes we have been calling for in the coming months.