ACCORDING to a survey carried out by the Environment Agency there is little or no difference between the environmental impacts of disposable and reusable nappies.

The study compared using disposable nappies, washing reusables at home and using a laundry service.

For each type of nappy studied, all the materials, chemicals and energy consumed during manufacture, use and disposal were identified and the resulting emissions into the environment accounted for.

The study looked at average UK children who wore nappies for the first two-and-a- half years and is supported by behavioural surveys carried out in 2002/3 covering more than 2,000 parents and guardians of children who use or have used nappies.

Three factors were looked at in the study: The energy and material used in the manufacture of the nappy; the daily number of changes required for the different types of nappy; how reusable nappies are washed, what temperature they were washed at, size of loads and types of detergents used.

Researchers concluded that overall there are no environmental benefits to using either disposable or reusable nappies. All three nappy types contributed to resource depletion, acidification and global warming.

If you use or are thinking of using reusable nappies, the Environment Agency suggests you use low temperature detergents, buy more nappies initially and wash full loads, do not use fabric softener, wash at a lower temperature, air dry rather than tumble dry and that you purchase electricity on a green tariff.