Can you compost menstrual products?

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Composting is returning biodegradable material back to the earth. Usually we compost food, tea bags and garden waste. But what about other products you use?

Have you ever considered if pads, panty liners and tampons can be composted too?

Picture this, a woman uses 17,000 pads in her lifetime. Can you imagine all that waste stacked up in one big pile?

Conventional pads and panty liners are made from up to 90% crude oil plastics and therefore are not compostable or biodegradable. In fact, composting them would be the equivalent of burying a handful of plastic bags in the ground; pointless and damaging to the environment! However, that big waste footprint is not something you have to accept!

If you use menstrual products that are plastic-free (like Natracare) and made from natural biodegradable materials such as organic cotton and plant cellulose, then Yes! – you can compost pads and tampons!

How should you compost natural pads and tampons?

  1. Firstly, ensure you are using natural pads, panty liners and tampons for your time of the month. These should be made from only natural, plant based materials (how do you know? read the ingredients list on the pack. If there isn’t one it probably isn’t compostable or get in touch with the manufacturer to check!)
  2. Create the correct conditions (i.e. damp and warm) by making a well-sealed compost bin and adding to it regularly. Using a properly enclosed bin is also really important to avoid attracting vermin.
  3. Ensure your compost has a good balance of green and brown compost
    • Green compost includes veggie peelings and grass cuttings etc. – softer, damper stuff that breaks down relatively quickly.
    • Brown compost involves fibrous things like cardboard and pruning clippings and natural pads and tampons which take longer to biodegrade than ‘green’ compost.
  4. To speed up the composting process, it’s a good idea to break up the pads and liners by hand (or with scissors) before putting them in the compost bin. Ideally, separate the backing layer which holds a small amount of adhesive – this can be composted too.
  5. Pat yourself on the back for choosing monthly products that won’t contribute to landfill!

We recommend waiting 18-24 months for the complete breakdown of menstrual products in the compost. Make sure it is biodegradable waste, then ensure it stays warm, moist and well aired. This ensures it breaks down in a beneficial way that returns all the building blocks of nature to the soil to better fuel future plant growth.

Want to know more about compostable products? Discover our nature friendly range of products here.

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22 thoughts on “Can you compost menstrual products?

  1. Bigal said:

    I have just bought a humanure composting bin and have used up all my supplies of used nappies and pads, liners and tampons that friends and family have sent me

    If u have a nursery, crèches or households with large amounts of used nappies and sanitary waste that you can bag up and send me for disposal then email me at dconstinger19@hotmail.com for more details

  2. jannie said:

    Your articles very helpful, gave more information

  3. Lori Sharpe said:

    I am thankful for this article! I am not new to composting, but just bought my first box of pantiliners today, and I thought, “If they’re all natural, they should be compostable too.” I’m glad to have found them and have told my daughters about your tampons as well. Thank you!

  4. kisscqrtoon said:

    Tampons — no matter what they’re made out of — should be disposed of into a landfill system because if you put them into a system where they can biodegrade — like compost — it’s a biohazard and it can spread disease,” she says.

  5. Caroline Starr said:

    am SO pleased to have finally found compostable incontinence pads. I was very pleased last year with both absobancy in use and biodegradability i Well done Natracare

  6. Veronika said:

    Hello, there’s no compost where I live. Could you please advice me about another way to dispose the Natracare pads and panty liners?

    Best regards

    Veronika

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Veronika, the best option without compost or food waste collection is normal waste disposal. We would recommend using biodegradable plant-based bin bags, these allow the bag and products to break down more easily in landfill, helping to reduce the overall toxicity of landfill sites.

  7. Alayna D. said:

    Am I able to compost the wrap packaging around the individual products? I read what they’re made out of on the box, but am unsure if I can?

    Thanks!

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Alayna, all the packaging is compostable (except for the non-applicator tampons and wipes packaging!). We use a plant-based wrapper on our pads and liners which easily biodegrades.

  8. Miss Katie Hassell said:

    I used to use Natracare and had no idea they were compostable! I have to say I stopped using them as I found they didn’t stick very well and moved about too much but I’ll put up with that to reduce my plastic use. Someone below mentions that tampons or towels shouldn’t be composted as it’s bio-hazardous waste…any ideas on that?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Katie, thanks for your comment. The glue we use works best with 100% cotton underwear and is heat and pressure sensitive. I’m sorry you felt it wasn’t enough, if you do try the pads again you could try briefly warming the pad between your hands before pressing firmly down to see if this helps. In a well-sealed and balanced compost bin products should not present a risk. As they break down over time, any biological waste breaks down too. This is why we recommend waiting up to 24 months before using the compost even though it should biodegrade in 12 months. I hope this helps!

  9. kahu said:

    What about the paper backing that you peel off? Seems a bit plasticy? thank you!

    • Natracare said:

      Compostable too! No plastic anywhere in the pads and liners and their packaging. Alternatively, you can recycle the paper peel-strip.

  10. Kim said:

    We don’t have a compost at home, but get a weekly food waste collection – can these go in that?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Kim, thanks for your message. In theory natracare products are totally fine for food waste collection. However you need to check with your local authority or council as they will have their own standards for what can and can’t go in. It might be any products with menstrual fluids cannot go in, but everyday liners or wipes are ok. The ideal scenario would be that all products can go in.

  11. Christine said:

    Hi Can your products be put into a compostable bin that is taken by the council and then used for the end product to be compost.. the food, garden waste, paper, cardboard etc is taken to an outside facility

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Christine,
      Each council or local authority has their own regulations about what you can and can’t put in the food-waste bin. It is worth contacting them directly to check!

  12. Josianne said:

    Hi!
    It’s awesome that your pads are compostable. Yay! But how about the “paper” that protect the glue and the glue itself? Are they all natural too? I was wondering if i can compost the waxy paper.

    Thank you so much!

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Josianne, you can compost the paper strip as well (or recycle). The glue we use is non-toxic, degradable and approved for composting too.

  13. mili baghela said:

    Hello – what about the packaging that the pads come in? Not the invidious wrappers but the entire package – is that biodegradable or recyclable as well?

    • Natracare said:

      Our pads either come in a cardboard box printed with vegetable-based inks (this is recyclable or compostable) or the pack is a domestic-compostable bag made from plant-starch (this is not recyclable but biodegradable).