It is estimated that in Italy disposable nappies correspond to more than 10% of waste sent to landfill. Using washable diapers can help solve this problem.
Disposable nappy needs about 500 years to decompose in landfill;
1 child = 5 nappies / day;
1 year = 1825 nappies;
3 years = 5475 nappies;
Nappy weight = approx. 250 g;
5475 nappies X 250 g = 1368.75 g = 1.3 tons of waste and 1 ton of CO2 emissions produced during the first 3 years of the child's life.
According to many studies over the last 20-30 years, the moment in which children reach sphincter control has been delayed (passing from an average of 18-24 months to 30-36 months of age). It has been hypothesized that the high absorbency capacity of sodium used in disposable diapers determines the lack of wet feeling in the child and that this could be the cause of a delay in the abandonment of the nappy. The project is implemented both through the initiative of the nurseries themselves and through the interest of the municipal administrations. The nurseries use washable nappies provided by the Coop. Stella del Mattino, instead of disposable nappies. The nappies are collected and returned by the same cooperative. The cooperative is equipped with its own ISO 14065 certified laundry. The process of sanitizing diapers is authorized by the local health authority. Meetings dedicated to families are organized to encourage them to continue at home the experience started at school.The use of washable nappies with natural fibers (cotton) reduces redness and irritation of the baby's skin. The main stakeholders are: municipalities, private and public nurseries, families.

Resources needed

ATA Rifiuti develops the project as part of its institutional activity without further specific funding measures. Stella del Mattino has benefited from a financing from a banking foundation, mainly destined to the setting up of the laundry and communication initiatives.

Evidence of success

4 Municipalities involved (Jesi, Senigallia, Ancona, Camerano)

Environmental goals:
- Reduction of waste produced and sent to landfill;
- Reduction of Co2 emissions generated by production and transport of disposable nappies;
- Reduction of costs for disposal of non-recyclable waste;
- Raising public awareness of reuse.
Health goals:
- Protection of child's health through the use of natural fibers (cotton);
- Anticipation of children's autonomy concerning their physiological needs.

Potential for learning or transfer

One first similar project was developed in the municipality of Bologna and ATArifiuti and Coop. Stella del mattino then adapted and personalized it in the province of Ancona. The project is therefore easily replicable. The laundry follows sanitization protocols recognized by the health authority and can be easily replicated with basic industrial washing machines and dryers. The creation of a complete supply chain of washable nappies using this project format (rental, supply, washing) is an added value that can generate local employment and the involvement of disadvantaged workers.
Main institution
ATA Rifiuti Ancona
Marche, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
April 2014
End Date


Please login to contact the author.