Mellow Mummy: Is Pampers 'Dry Max' A Green Step Forward? : Taking life as it comes...

Monday 12 July 2010

Is Pampers 'Dry Max' A Green Step Forward?

As someone who only uses disposable nappies as a convenience when travelling, or when I'm out and about, I was particularly fascinated to be invited to tour the Pampers research and development facility in Schwalbach near Frankfurt. Because I only use disposable nappies about 30% of the time, I don't take them for granted. I'm very aware of their effectiveness, of their fit, of their price and of their construction. I'm fussy when it comes to disposable nappies.

If you are a user of Pampers nappies then it can't have escaped your notice that a short while ago, the Pampers Active Fit nappies changed. I was invited to Germany to find out more about the research and technology behind the new Dry Max technology. And so, with a handful of journalists from Prima Baby, Mother & Baby and Think Baby / Made for Mums, I spent a day finding out about the new Dry Max technology and the 10 years of research and development behind it.

The journos squidge a nappy full with 500ml of liquid!

I promise to share with you some of the exciting tales and photos later in the week but for the time being I wanted to talk about the issue that was most important to me on the day.

I use reusable nappies. I use disposable nappies. The two can work together.

I cook healthy, scrumptious home-made food. I buy convenience food. The two can work together.

I have been using disposables a lot recently due to our trip to the USA last month. As I passed through Heathrow airport on the way to Frankfurt for the Pampers trip, I couldn't help but wonder what people had done before the days of disposable nappies when travelling with babies. I can't think of anything I'd like to do less than lug a bag full of stinky nappies around in my hand luggage. In the days when my parents travelled the globe with me, disposable nappies were REALLY bulky, plastic-wrapped, rectangular lumps that offered little protection from leakage. But, even so, my parents still chose them over cotton nappies when they travelled. The new Pampers Dry Max technology is the biggest technological breakthrough in disposable nappies for around 10 years and it means that disposable nappies of the future will be compact and ultra-absorbent – ideal for travel.

Me examining the difference in bulk between the old and new Active Fit nappies

At the end of the day in Schwalbach, Proctor and Gamble brought out the big guns - The Environmental Expert – to tell us why the new Active Fit nappy is going to save the world. Now, as a green mummy, I'm more than aware that the environmental impact of my reusable nappies is similar to that of disposables (as they kindly pointed out to me here). That's assuming that I use evil washing detergents and evil tumble driers (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't) and that I'll never have any more kids (which, I hope, is unlikely). I'm also aware that for every reusable nappy that Lara wears, it is one less disposable, non-biodegradable nappy piling up in UK landfill. And anyway, I don't only use reusable nappies for their environmental impact; I use them because Lara's skin is always 100% free from nappy rash when she wears a cotton nappy (but she gets a rash with just one day of disposables); I use them because I find it easier (and she finds it easier) to identify a wet or dirty nappy when it happens and I use them because they smell and look nicer.

The new Dry Max technology involves more of this crazy absorbent gel

P&G were quizzed by us all about the environmental impact of the weird gel that is now the primary active element of their new nappies (The gel is also known as Super-Absorber – read more about it later this week on Mellow Mummy). To be very honest, they coped well under pressure – Pampers are not designed to be biodegradable in any way and their primary focus is performance. P&G were keen to point out that the new Active Fit nappies with Dry Max have a significantly lower environmental footprint than their predecessors; from raw materials right through to disposal. Each nappy now has about 20% less bulk which means less space being taken up in landfill. To me, it doesn't make an enormous amount of difference to which brand or style of nappy I buy, but if I am going to use a disposable nappy, then yes, I would like to know that the manufacturer was making attempts to reduce their impact on the planet.

So no, Pampers with Dry Max will NOT save the planet but at least it is a small step forward and now, having spoken to the real scientists behind Pampers disposable nappies, I know that the thought is there and that somewhere in the depths of their research centre there are small steps being made to research a greener alternative, perhaps another 15-20 years in the future.
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