An exploratory study of the impact and potential of menstrual hygiene management waste in the UK

Date

2022-02-11

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Elsevier

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

An estimated 15 million people in the UK menstruate over the span of approximately 37.5 years, using every year around 3.3 billion units of single-use menstrual management products (MMPs) (i.e. pads and tampons). A more circular design and sustainable management of these products could greatly reduce their waste and environmental impacts. This research is an exploratory study into the current menstrual products, waste and systems in the UK. The study found that an estimated 28,114 tonnes of waste is generated annually from menstrual products, 26,903 tonnes from disposable products of which about 4% (3,363 tonnes) is lost in the environment by flushing. The less sustainable products within those studied are disposable pads, which are the main contributors to menstrual waste volumes in the UK (21,094 t/y) and produce around 6,600 tCO2 eq. of GHG. Replacing disposable MMPs with reusable would reduce waste production by 22,907 t/y and avoid about 7,900 tCO2 eq. of GHG. In addition, even a simple better waste management process, such replacing landfill with thermal treatment, would further reduce emissions by around 5,000 tCO2 eq. of GHG and produce every year approximately 5,500 MKh with incineration and 18,000 MKh with gasification.

Description

open access article

Keywords

Feminine hygiene products, Circular economy, Solid waste, Reusable products, Sanitary products, Menstruation

Citation

L.A.G. Blair, Y. Bajón -Fernández, R. Villa (2022) An exploratory study of the impact and potential of menstrual hygiene management waste in the UK. Cleaner Engineering and Technology, 7, 100435

Rights

Research Institute

Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)