There is a lot of discussion surrounding ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ manufacturing as a whole lately. And rightly so. It’s really important that brands and consumers alike pay thought to where products are made and the resulting impact. There is a lot of nuance to this discussion and it is rarely a simple as ‘UK = Good, China = Bad’.
Roam reusable nappies are indeed manufactured in China. It's not a secret. We searched the UK and Europe for manufacturers, but the costs/minimum order quantities would never work for a start-up like us and we’d need to supply and import the fabric anyway. Further to that, there wasn’t many places with the level of experience or expertise we were looking for.
Benefits of Manufacturing in China
The assumption that China means ‘cheap’ or ‘poorly-made’ is pretty outdated and problematic. The laws are strict and clear within China when it comes to labour. Of course it’s not ideal for us to manufacture in China, but costs and politics (cheers Brexit) make it hard to manufacture at this scale in the EU at an accessible price point.
Yes, maybe we could make nappies in the UK, but are you going to pay £40 for it? Probably not. This is the reality. We want to help more parents make the switch to reusable cloth nappies and we can't do this if we're not able to sell an accessible product.
There are so many positives to working with our ethical facility and their expertise and skill is fantastic. We talk over Skype and have a great rapport. Modern technology thankfully means that there is much less back and forth and sampling is far more efficient. The quality really shows in our nappies and we have had lots of customer feedback to say so. Our facility also uses advanced methods, such as laser cutting the fabric and using a custom die-cut mould, ensuring we get the most out of every centimetre!
Safety, Ethics and Quality
We vetted the facility and asked lots of questions so we could be sure they are ethical, high quality and well-run. They actually manufacture for many big-name baby brands (not just cloth nappies) and have regular SEDEX audits. SEDEX manages and improves transparency of working conditions and supply chains.
Our facility has Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification and all fabrics used are Oeko-Tex certified, including REPREVE®. The matte-finish snaps on our products are made by the leading supplier, KAM, and are free from BPA, phthalates, lead etc. The inks used for printing our patterns and colours are safe and eco-friendly and the lamination of the PUL is done thermally, not chemically.
Each product undergoes four different methods of quality control inspections, including a final needle detector test to ensure nothing is left behind from the sewing process. The facility has also recently been audited by INTERTEK, a Total Quality Assurance provider. INTERTEK test, inspect and certify that all trusted internal and external standards are met.
Our ImpactWe make a point of importing our goods via rail to help offset our carbon footprint and we use recycled PUL made from REPREVE®. We plant a tree with every order through our website with Ecologi, this also supports carbon offset projects worldwide.
The Bottom Line?
So, all of this to say how much actually goes into manufacturing our reusable nappies, washable cloth wipes and wet bags in China. We don't manufacture our cloth nappies in China just because it's the cheapest option - there are many benefits to doing so!
We really care about our impact and will continue to explore each step of our supply chain as we move forward. We will always be transparent with our goals and as sustainable as we can possibly be.
Katie, founder Roam