Since 1985, the trend has been towards thinner sanitary pads using less wood-based pulp and increased use of synthetic super absorbents made from petroleum. Apertured plastic film is mostly used as a cover on sanitary pads and liners today, and is often called the “Dri-weave top sheet". In reality, it is simply just loaded polyethylene film - or plastic with holes in to you and me.
European and North American consumption of this type of sanitary pad is the highest in the world - more than a third of total worldwide consumption of 45 billion units - All eventually needing to be disposed of somewhere! Every year, in Britain alone, we would need to dig a hole 300 feet wide and 300 feet deep to bury the used sanitary pads and tampons that women throw away.
Unfortunately, this synthetic material is being used more and more in other products such as baby wipes, wet wipes, feminine wipes, tumble dryer cloths, diapers, incontinence pads and moist toilet tissues. No doubt, all ending their “useful lives " flushed down the toilet or in a landfill site.
In recent years, with the new development of biodegradable materials made from plant cellulose, it is possible for these plastics to be replaced. This biodegradable material can be used for most products where plastics are being used to include: sanitary pads, liners, diapers and wet and dry wipes instead of the synthetics derived from petroleum used exclusively today.
Despite the environmental pressures of the early 90's, sanitary protection is still being made from more and more plastic materials. There is, therefore, the need to raise consumer awareness about the proper disposal of these products. Most people are not even aware of the high loading of plastics in the products they use, and it does not help that manufacturers of these products are unwilling to print a full list of the materials they use on their packaging.
Disposal of used sanitary products is either by flushing out to sea, incineration, or depositing in landfill sites. Various pollutants, including dioxins, are continually deposited in the sea through sewage waste and air pollution from incinerators. This not only irreversibly damages and contaminates fish and other sea life; it inevitably results in human exposure to these toxins when we consume these plants and animals.
Most women are aware that flushing sanitary pads results in the contamination of our oceans, rivers, and many are prepared to dispose of their pads along with the domestic waste which is either incinerated or buried in landfill sites. Incineration is a major cause of pollution worldwide. However, the alternative of burying rubbish in the ground is not much of an improvement because the plastics used in sanitary pads and liners and tampon applicators do not biodegrade at all, and will remain in the environment unchanged for hundreds of years.
For many years, Natracare has done much to lessen the environmental impact of sanitary products by producing a full range of sanitary pads and liners made from biodegradable, totally chlorine-free cellulose and Bioplastics which are biodegradable and compostable under the correct conditions, and are safe for septic tanks.