Can You Compost Menstrual Products?

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 for compost (i.e. damp and warm) by making a well-sealed 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. Mel said:

    Have have you actually worked with a compost facility or backyard composter to get to these conclusions? Usually, when a product is tested for composting, the manufacturer has information on how long it takes to breakdown instead of vague reccomendations on how a standard compost pile works.

    Are these considered a brown or a green? Have you even consulted with a compost professional to determine the feasibility of composting these products? have you done any kind of experimentation?

    • Natracare said:

      All Natracare products are considered compostable, and are classed as brown compost. They are undergoing “OK Compost” TUV testing, an international standard for types of compost and materials in products.

      Currently each raw material has its own compost certificate, i.e. cotton, the plant-based backing etc. We’re very proud of the home-compostable status of all of our period products and wipes.

      We know many of our users regularly compost our products and some of them have done so for years. We recommend at least 12 but generally 18 months if using your average standard home compost – just to be safe. We’ve yet to hear about an unexpected surprise.

  2. Gina Georgina said:

    Hi,

    I am so excited to know that this is an option! Can you confirm that this is for pads and tampons that I’ve used during my period? I thought you couldn’t compost bio-waste. Thanks!

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Gina, all natracare products are home compostable – so yes, both pads and tampons included! For bio-waste, composting needs a little longer before being used, we recommend at least 12 months, but 18 to 24 to really ensure everything has biodegraded properly and a well-sealed bin. Everything will break down properly and safely. When using a food-waste bin it’s best to check with your local authority first, they sometimes have stricter rules about what can and can’t be put in.

  3. Clare said:

    Really interested in your products, but keen to know if the tampon outer packaging is also plastic free?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Clare,
      Our applicator tampons have compostable packaging – cardboard and paper. Our non-applicator tampons are legally obliged to have plastic wrapping (which is widely recyclable) to ensure they are kept at a hygienic standard and hold the shape of the cotton before use. Natracare is plastic free by design and we only use plastic in our packaging where it is essential to do so.

  4. Penny said:

    Are these pads suitable to be put in the brown recycling bins?

    • Natracare said:

      In theory, yes natracare products are suitable for brown food waste bins. However, each local authority will have different rules, you will need to check with yours first to make sure.

  5. Cindi said:

    Hello,

    We collect enough green (nitrogen) and brown waste (carbon) to build hot compost piles using the Berkeley Composting Method. I’m aware of menses containing bacteria and after leaving the body, can act as a breeding ground for potential hazardous microbes. Is this something I need to be aware of to consider how we use humus in the garden?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Cindi, hot compost is even better for composting natracare products than traditional cold composting, as it can help break down any pathogens. I would recommend shredding/separating pads, liners and tampons first to increase the surface area in order to help everything break down.

  6. May said:

    Do I need to compost the products to avoid harm to the environment? Or can I dispose of them regularly in a regular bin as I would with my other period products and still avoid harming the environment? I live in a flat without any garden facilities and my apartment bins don’t have compost or food recycling options.

    • Natracare said:

      Hi May, composting is the most eco-friendly way to dispose of natracare products at this time. As you don’t have access to compost, we recommend using a biodegradable bin bag and disposing as normal. Natracare pads and tampons will break down much quicker and much more safely than conventional periods products in landfill.

  7. alex said:

    My local authority says ONLY food waste may be placed in the composting bin. What they class as clinical waste (such as incontinence pads and urinary catheter bags and tubes) can go in the general waste bin. As they officially don’t want dressings or blood catheters even in the general waste, I am left wondering how I’m to dispose of any period products whether they contain plastic or not! 🙁

    I’ve tried a moon cup, it leaked, never gonna save the environment with the amount of pads I was getting through! I travel a lot and would often not be able to wash reusable pads or period proof underwear the same day.

    I had to search for information on this, I’m sure plenty of women are as confused as I am. It seems like a big campaign is much needed to educate women on what it is we are supposed to be doing!!!

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Alex, that’s a great shame – each local authority has different rules on what they accept in biological or food waste bins. Some councils offer dedicated bins for nappies and incontinence pads (as they typically generate so much waste). Menstrual pads and tampons can be included in this kind of scheme where the waste is then incinerated. Much better to burn a pad like natracare’s made without any plastic or synthetic materials.

      Ideally the way waste is managed and collected needs a massive overhaul to cut out any confusion and prevent unnecessary landfill. The best method for disposal of natracare products is composting at home at this time.

  8. Faye said:

    Hello, can you compost or recycle the peel off strip on your liners too?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Faye, the peel strip is home-compostable!

  9. Antonella said:

    Hi, I’m very confused on how to recycle.
    External package in paper recycle I suppose, what about the pads themselves (brown compostable?), the envelope of the single pad (compostable?) and the pill strip? Thanks

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Antonella, different countries and local authorities all have their own way of managing household waste. So there isn’t a one-fits-all answer we can give you. We’ll send you an email so we can dig in deeper to your particular situation!

  10. Ashley E. Lempka said:

    What about the wrappers? Are they comparable or biodegradable? In backyard compost …?

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Ashley,
      • Ultra pads – we use a chlorine-free paper wrapper, this is recyclable or home compostable.
      • Ultra Extra pads – we use a biodegradable plant-starch film wrapper, this is industrial compostable.

  11. Sarah Austen said:

    Hi there,

    Love your products. I just want to make sure can you compost the plastic wrap the pads come in and the bit that covers the adhesive on the wings? I like to wrap the used pads in these but am not sure if it will compost too.

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Sarah, thanks for your question. The paper used to cover any areas of glue is home compostable.
      The plant-starch wrapper on some of our pads is industrial compostable only. It’s best to wrap any used pads in toilet paper if you’re composting at home.