Nappy manufacturers Kimberly-Clark and EcoQuest are accusing one another of 'greenwashing' consumers as the latter prepares to launch Little Takas, a nappy made from non-woven materials derived from corn and wood pulp. Kimberly-Clark questions the benefit of a partially biodegradable disposable nappy while EcoQuest does not agree with Kimberly-Clark's marketing approach, which highlights the sustainability of its raw materials and assembly processes.
Kimberly-Clark says biodegradation, while appearing attractive as a solution, does not address the real problem as product breakdown does not typically occur in a landfill. EcoQuest did have its latest product independently tested, in accordance with a restraining order by the Australian Federal Court. In 2008, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took legal action against EcoQuest - then known as SeNevens - for false and misleading claims that its Safeties Nature Nappy product was 100% biodegradable; the court ruled SeNevens must submit any nappy it intended marketing as 'biodegradable' for independent scientific testing.
The Little Takas range of nappies, from newborn to toddler size, was tested against the Australian Standard for biodegradable plastics. At the conclusion of six months of independent scientific testing, the nappies achieved 90% of the maximum theoretical value for biodegradation. “Unlike conventional disposable nappies, our Little Takas range avoids using oil based plastics and replaces these with natural based biodegradable materials which offers the consumer a more sustainable choice," EcoQuest chairman, Ms Sylvia Tulloch says.
As well as biodegradable disposable nappies, cloth nappies are another green option for parents to consider. Research from the University of Queensland showed that home-washed reusable nappies, washed in cold water in a front-loading washing machines and line-dried, are the most environmentally friendly option.
More than 2.1 billion nappies were used by Australian babies in 2008/09. Green brands together account for 10% of the disposable nappies market, compared with Kimberly-Clark's 60% share. For more on cloth and disposable nappies, see our report.