Blue Mountains looks at introducing rebate for reusable nappies

Greens candidates for Blue Mountains City Council: Kingsley Liu (Ward 3), Sarah Redshaw (Ward 1) and Ward 2 Cr Brent Hoare. File photo.
Greens candidates for Blue Mountains City Council: Kingsley Liu (Ward 3), Sarah Redshaw (Ward 1) and Ward 2 Cr Brent Hoare. File photo.

The Blue Mountains could introduce a reusable nappy and sanitary items rebate following a successful trial of a scheme in Penrith and a push by Labor and Greens councillors.

The three Blue Mountains Greens council candidates have pledged to implement rebates if elected at the local government elections in December while Ward 2 Labor Cr Romola Hollywood will call for a report at the next council meeting that will investigate funding a rebate scheme.

"A number of new parents have asked me, over the last year or more, whether our council could introduce a reusable nappy rebate as an incentive for families who want to use cloth nappies but may find the upfront costs prohibitive," said Cr Hollywood.

"Parents have noticed some other councils have initiatives such as a rebate to help with the initial purchase of cloth nappies."

A planned six-month trial run by Penrith Council last year was so successful it finished after just two months because the uptake was so strong.

Funded by grant from the Environment Protection Authority, 278 households successfully applied for a rebate on purchases of reusable cloth nappies, sanitary products and accessories. Fifty-eight per cent of these households purchased reusable nappy and sanitary products for the first time, with 84 per cent indicating the rebate influenced their purchasing decision.

"The early closure of [the scheme] speaks to the overwhelming support of the scheme by Penrith residents and the growing demand for reusable products amongst the community," Penrith council staff stated.

About 800 tonnes of disposable nappies are sent to landfill in the Blue Mountains each year, and approximately 150kg of sanitary items are sent straight to landfill during the lifetime of one person who uses the product.

Greens candidate for Ward 1, Sarah Redshaw, said council needs to make it easier for people to live sustainably.

"By encouraging the use of reusable nappies and sanitary items, Blue Mountains City Council can prevent pollution and reduce greenhouse emissions and landfill," she said

Greens Ward 2 Cr Brent Hoare said using reusable items can save families up to $1000 a year.

"We know that these products can be expensive up front though which is why the Greens believe council has an important role in helping people make the switch. If we can help Blue Mountains residents move to using reusable items, that's a great thing."

Under possible plans, households would receive rebates of 50 per cent of the cost of reusable nappies and sanitary items, up to $200. The rebate would cover cloth and swim nappies, reusable inner liner for nappies, reusable wipes, wet bags, reusable nursing breast pads, and reusable sanitary pads, sanitary cups, leak-proof underwear and wet bags.

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Greens candidate for Ward 3, Kingsley Liu, said nappies and other disposable sanitary items can take up to 300 years to decompose in landfill.

"We obviously need alternatives, and a rebate on these reusable items will speed up their adoption."

Cr Hollywood's notice of motion will call for a report to come to the council on a reusable nappy rebate service, including funding sources and timelines.

"I am aware that the Blue Mountains Greens have claimed that they will deliver a reusable nappy and sanitary item rebate in the Blue Mountains if elected at the local government elections in December," she said.

"I welcome their enthusiasm but have to say I was a bit surprised by the claim 'they will deliver the rebate service' when there is no council resolution to enable this to be considered, let alone happen."

Cr Hoare said: "We look forward to consulting the community and working collaboratively with the elected council and staff to develop and refine all proposals for a reusable nappy and sanitary item rebate that helps to improve peoples' lives and reduce our waste volumes going to landfill."