Figures from Mintel claim the market for nappies and wipes grew to £625 million in 2009, up from £615 million in 2008.

But, Mintel finds eco concerns have yet to hit the market, as more than a third (36%) of parents admit they ‘know disposables are bad for the environment but still use them’.

Only 5% of today’s parents use washable or reusable nappies and only 4% use eco or organic disposables.

And, it seems the perceived extra expense of eco lines is playing a significant role in this green inertia, with 20% of consumers citing price as a main reason for not buying them.

Indeed, while three quarters of adults (75%) agree that they have a duty to recycle, only a third (34%) are prepared to pay more for an environmentally-friendly product. It appears few are prepared to sacrifice performance, convenience and reliability for a better environmental product.

Mintel predicts the market to grow even further by the end of this year to reach £640 million – up 16% since 2005. Growth has been helped by a rise in the birth rate over this period, with 8% more babies (57,000) expected to be born in 2010 than in 2005.

Senior retail analyst at Mintel, Jane Westgarth, said: “For many parents the notion of washable nappies is a retro step too far.

“Some new parents are children of adults who were in disposable nappies themselves and very few families will have any notion or experience of using terry nappies.

“Washable nappies have evolved too and this may be little understood by today’s throwaway consumers.

“Marketing needs to encourage parents to take a fresh look at modern reusable nappy designs, better performance and easy care, while also addressing the positive aspects like reducing landfill and preserving the planet.

“With 95% of parents of babies and toddlers opting for disposable nappies, there are around 7 million nappies being thrown away every day in the UK, and most of these go into landfill.”

According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), there were 25 new nappy products launched in the UK last year, up from 23 in 2008 and from 14 in 2005.

Luke Walsh

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