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Cloth diapers to be removed from maternity package – NGOs critical

The maternity packages given to mothers of newborns will no longer include cloth nappies starting in 2018. Social security agency Kela says that the money once used for the diapers can be used to supply families with more useful items. A number of organisations see the move as a blow to sustainable development.

Vauva kestovaipoissa.
Cloth diapers like these are on their way out, to the chagrin of NGOs. Image: Emilia Luoma

The cloth diaper will no longer be a part of Finland's maternity package starting in 2018. Social security agency Kela communications chief Pipsa Lotta Marjamäki says her organisation will not be asking for bids on re-usable nappies for the 2018 baby box.

Next year's packages will still include cloth diapers, which are intended for long-term use.

Marjamäki says Kela has received a great deal of feedback, both positive and negative, about the cloth diapers. It is based on this feedback that Kela has now decided that the money going into re-usables should in future be used to supply families with other more useful accessories.

"The diapers have been rather expensive, and it has been surprisingly difficult to find a model that most users can be happy with," Marjamäki says.

140 euros per package

The contents of Finland's so-called baby box are compiled by the Kela maternity package council, whose members are given 140 euros per box to plan with.

Despite the decision to eliminate cloth diapers, the packages from 2018 onward will continue to utilise the full sum. The exact contents of the baby box will be decided once competitive bidding for its products has concluded.

"Prejudice and ignorance"

The Cloth Diaper Association, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and the Finnish Nature League have all criticised Kela's decision to drop the cloth nappy from the maternal package. All of the organisations say the cloth variety is preferable to disposable diapers.

"The future cannot be based on a culture of disposability where the take-produce-dispose model describes the cycle of products," the associations write in a joint statement.

All three organisations say that the main reasons for the discontinuation of cloth diapers are prejudice and ignorance.

"Cloth diapers should be accompanied by a clear guide to help parents use them," the organisations say.

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