By 2026, All Scottish Councils May Be Mandated to Implement Free Reusable Nappy Programs for Parents

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Every council in Scotland would have to offer parents a free reusable nappy scheme under plans being tabled by a Labour MSP.

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Monica Lennon’s amendments to the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Bill – to be debated in the coming weeks – would give local authorities until April 2026 to introduce a scheme.

We revealed last year how just five of Scotland’s 32 councils offered some form of initiative for reusable diapers – also known as real or cloth nappies.

Lennon said hard-up Scots could save hundreds of pounds a year on extortionate disposable nappies as well as help the planet by switching to the machine-washable alternative.

In 2019, North Ayrshire Council became the first council to introduce free “birth to potty” reusable nappies for parents – with the scheme so popular there is now a waiting list.

The Scottish Labour politician’s proposals say: “Each local authority must, by 30 April 2026, make a scheme for their area to provide free access to reusable diapers for a child to all persons who need them.”

Lennon told the Record she hopes MSPs across the political divide would “unite” to back her plan.

The Central Scotland MSP said: “Single-use nappies cost families a fortune and are terrible for the environment.

“By backing these proposals, the Scottish Parliament can make it easier for parents to access free reusable nappies and introduce them to their routine.

“It’s a win-win situation, as North Ayrshire Council has proven.

“Households can have more money in their pockets for essentials and cash-strapped councils reduce their landfill bills.”

Lennon added: “Even if families only use reusable nappies some of the time, every little bit helps reduce the millions of disposable nappies that end up in landfill and in the ground for hundreds of years.

“It is exciting to submit this bid to make Scotland the first country in the world to make free reusable nappies available to all infants.

“Urgent climate action is needed now to protect babies and future generations from plastic pollution and unnecessary waste.”

We told in February how Holyrood chiefs are looking at how to ramp up the provision of reusable nappies to help the environment and save new parents cash – particularly those on low incomes.

It’s part of plans to turn Scotland into a “circular economy” where we recycle and reuse more of the materials we consume.

The Bill passed its first stage in the Scottish Parliament in March.

However, since then ex-circular economy minister Lorna Slater who had been spearheading the legislation was sacked from government by Humza Yousaf.

Scottish Greens co-leader Slater previously joined Lennon on a visit to North Ayrshire Council’s pioneering reusable nappy scheme when she was still in post.

The scheme saves families up to £1300 per child on the cost of disposable nappies, while also reducing the environmental impact by around 40 per cent.

The UK disposes of around 3 billion disposable nappies every year – representing up to 3 per cent of all household waste.

Shocking research by baby banks last year found more than 80 per cent of parents are being forced to restrict their babies to one nappy a day because they can’t afford to buy more.

It’s estimated that, on average, a child gets through at least 5000 single-use disposable nappies from birth to potty training

But research shows reusable nappies, also known as modern cloth nappies or real nappies, can save parents up to £500 per child.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome Ms Lennon’s efforts to encourage more local authorities to develop reusable nappy schemes.

“Reusable nappies cut waste and can be a great and economical option for parents. That’s why Scotland’s Baby Box includes a redeemable voucher for reusable nappies, and families are offered a discounted package should they wish to continue to use them.

“We have also commissioned new research to better understand the barriers to greater use of reusable nappies.”

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