In what could be a first for New Zealand, the Waitaki District Council is planning to sell cloth nappies from its front desk in an effort to reduce the amount of disposable nappies being put into landfill.

Council solid waste officer Gerry O'Neill said disposable nappies were responsible for five per cent of the waste that ended up at the Oamaru landfill.

"It is proposed that council offer subsidised starter packs of cloth nappies to the parents of newborn babies in the district," he told the Oamaru Mail.

"This is to encourage the use of cloth nappies and reduce the community's reliance on disposable nappies"

A study of solid waste at the Oamaru landfill showed it received about 12 tonnes of nappies and sanitary waste a week in 2008.

Mr O'Neill said the same amount was likely to be going in at the Palmerston landfill.

The cost of this cloth nappy initiative is tipped to be capped at $5500 a year and at this stage it is suggested it be funded out of the $225,000 set aside in the Long Term Council Community Plan for the promotion of waste minimisation.

The council is looking to reduce waste at landfills to meet its obligations under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The ETS requires landfill owners to buy emissions units for emissions generated from their waste from January 1, 2013.

If councillors approve the cloth-nappy initiative, its effectiveness will be reviewed after one year.

Interesting fact: It takes 450 to 550 years for a disposable nappy to decompose in a landfill environment.

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- OAMARU MAIL