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 (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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11 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.

      Currently each raw material has its own compost certificate, i.e. glue, the plant-based backing etc. Our products are currently undergoing composting tests to get more official data for the composting of a whole pad or tampon. 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 is 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 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.