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Testing, one, two: Little & Brave looks for circular solution with compostable nappy, bespoke facility and collection service

Tahlia and Semisi Hutchinson

Planet-loving parents are often caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to nappies. 'Disposables' are undoubtedly handy, but over one million of these plastic-fantastics are being sent to landfill every day, with some council estimates showing they make up four to 45 percent of the total waste stream. But hope may be in sight, because Auckland parents Semisi and Tahlia Hutchison have just launched a fully compostable nappy range called Little & Brave, as well as the country's first dedicated commercial composting facility and a clever drop and collect service. 

“We spent a long time researching and refining the product and are very excited to launch the service today. Little & Brave will help Kiwi families reduce waste without compromising their busy lifestyles,” says Tahlia.

The nappies come in three sizes and made of non-GMO corn starch, chlorine free FSC certified tree fluff pulp, waterproof and breathable plant-based bio-film, soft cloth-feel outer made from 100 percent plant-based non-woven viscose, and have a reusable washable fabric snap wrap. 

To ensure that the nappies can be composted, Little & Brave has set up their own dedicated commercial composting facility for their nappies in Auckland. 

“This is a first for New Zealand. Not only are we offering a fully compostable disposable nappy, we’re setting up the infrastructure needed to make sure they can be composted. This is something no one else has done." 

Recycling schemes often have good intentions, and very little follow through. But Little & Brave are trying to make it easier with their ‘Drop & Collect’ service where, for $48 per week, fresh nappies are dropped off and used nappies are taken away to be composted at their facility. To avoid the nappies going to landfill, their products and services are currently only available in Auckland. But it plans to sell the nappies in other centres when they form partnerships with commercial composting plants and regional councils.

“Our compost process maintains a consistent high temperature, which enables the nappies to fully break down and removes any pathogens."

Some council figures indicate that disposable nappies make up 5% to 45% of the domestic waste stream in New Zealand. Other nappy brands such as the fast-growing Rascal + Friends are also developing compostable nappies and eco-wipes, with founder Grant Taylor recently saying they were making sure they had the product right before they went to market. Little Genie also offers some compostable baby products, with certain restrictions. And while Thankyou doesn't sell nappies in New Zealand yet (and doesn't sell compostable nappies in Australia), it does say they're better for the environment than the current offerings and its social enterprise model gives a share of the profits to charity. 

“Nappies can take centuries to break down in landfill. In the process they release methane and can contaminate land, ground water and water ways through leachate. Our compostable nappies, and composting service, solve these problems,” she says.

Each pack of Little & Brave Eco Nappies costs $20. The nappies come in three different sizes: Small (2kg - 8kg) with 34 nappies, Medium (6kg - 12kg) with 30 nappies and Large (8kg - 15kg+) with 26 nappies in a pack.

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