The liner or topsheet – made of the plastic polymer polypropylene – sits next to the baby’s skin and protects against wetness. From this layer, fluids flow down through the pulp-based tissue layer and into the core.
The core contains fluff pulp and SAP, an absorbent polymer to draw in and contain the baby’s urine and faeces.
Leakage from the nappy is minimised by a plastic bottom layer and the elastic barriers that hold the nappy around the child’s waist. The nappy is thrown away after it is soiled.
The average baby will go through 5,000 nappies. As 85 per cent of people are using disposables, they now form 4 per cent of all household waste, costing the taxpayer £40m each year to dispose of them.
Of the approximately eight million disposable nappies used in the UK every day, around 7.5 million end up in landfill sites.
Disposable nappies use three and a half times more energy than real nappies to produce, eight times more non-renewable materials and 90 times more renewable resources.The ecologist
7 million trees are cut down every year just to make disposable nappies Green Box Day
Along with cotton buds, tampons, applicators and panty liners make up 7.3 % of items flushed down the toilet in the UK.3
For every kilometre of beach included in the Beachwatch survey weekend in 2010, 22.5 towels/panty liners/backing strips, and 8.9 tampon applicators, were found.
According to the Sewer Network Action Programme, even products that are described as flushable or biodegradable can contribute to more than half (55%) of sewer flooding due to blockages in sewers.
In the UK alone, we buy more than 3 billion items of menstrual lingerie every year, spending £349 million in 2010 on sanitary and ‘feminine hygiene’ products.
About 90% of the materials used to make sanitary pads and liners are plastic and include polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate super absorbents.
Every year, over 45 billion feminine hygiene products are disposed of somewhere.
Commercial production of superabsorbent polymers began in Japan in 1978 for use in sanitary pads. In the 80’s, using crude oil derived raw materials, European manufacturers enhanced the polymer so that it now absorbed 30 times it’s own weight under pressure. By the mid 90’s, production of SAP jumped to a massive 700 million tons. 75% used in diaper production, 10% in incontinence products, 10% in sanitary pads, and the rest in meat trays, etc.
Items such as nappy liners, ‘flushable’ wipes and toilet seat liners cause many problems. But the main pest are women’s sanitary items.
The council says every single one has to be removed and sorted by hand by workers at waste stations.
Oh Yuck! Jesse Peach went to check out the undesirables in Wellington that haunt drains beneath our feet. Read more:
Find out How to Menstruate Plastic Free here
As we already know from this blog,tiny sea creatures, the bedrock of the food chain, ingest these micro plastics. You can see plankton hoovering up plastic here. There is increasing evidence that this is not a healthy diet.
Best to cut back on synthetics especially those items that may get get washed into the sea.
You can find out about natural fibres here