Article

Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Sanitary Pads and Tampons GROUP 6

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Abstract

The work is dedicated to comparative life cycle assessments of two main women hygiene protection facilities – sanitary pads and tampons – using software Sima Pro 7. In the work the life cycle assessment were conducted for sanitary pads (fully), tampons (partly) and for tampons and sanitary pads assemblies (fully). Goal and scope of the analyses were established and functional units were calculated with respect to time parameters of both pads and tampons. Then, impact categories to consider and assessment method (Eco-Indicator 99) were chosen. Data on sanitary pads and tampons structure, production process, raw materials processing, transportation, and after-use waste utilization were collected, using both literature investigations and empirical weighting of products. Four sub-models were created, describing full life cycles and assemblies life cycles for sanitary pads and tampons. Modeling was conducted and results were obtained with the help of Eco-Indicator 99 method. The results were explained using single score, characterization, normalization, and process contribution tables. The inputs distribution into the main environmental impacts was analyzed with respect to processes inventory and the origin of the numbers obtained. Human health impacts of toxins in tampons are analyzed in the discussion part. Conclusions were made concerning the best hygiene facility from environmental point of view, limitations of the investigation, and problems we faced during data collection and assessment.

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... Applicators can be made from card or plastic [13]. One tampon can be used for 4-8 h, then it should be disposed of in a bin [14]. ...
... Indeed, data on the environmental impact of menstrual products such as tampons and pads are difficult to find. To date, peer-reviewed research comparing the environmental impact of different products is not available [20], although two non-peer reviewed studies covering a limited range of products have been published [14,20]. If the public are not aware of the environmental impact of different menstrual products, they cannot be expected to consider it when making the choice of what to purchase. ...
... The results show a significant difference in the choice of menstrual product by each group. Research by Mazgaj et al. [14] and Weir [20] suggests that disposable non-organic pads and tampons cause the highest environmental impact and reusable products create a lower impact, with menstrual cups causing the lowest environmental impact. ...
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This paper explores the level of awareness people have about the environmental impact of menstrual products. Currently the most popular types of product are also the most detrimental to the natural environment, particularly due to the amount of hidden plastic in disposable items. This research seeks to find out whether people realize that this is the case and whether those that are more aware of the damage are likely to make choices that are less harmful to the environment. A mixed method approach was taken, using online surveys and focus groups. The results of the study show that most participants were not aware at the amount of plastic in disposable menstrual products, and that there are other issues linked to their environmental impact that people are generally not aware of. Some participants were more aware of the issues than others and the research suggests that those with a higher awareness are more likely to choose products that are less harmful to the environment. Based on these findings, future actions and areas of further research are suggested.
... Table 5 presents the LCA for FHP included in this research. Environmental impacts of FHP are associated with raw materials (Mazgaj et al., 2006) and packaging (Leroy et al., 2016;Musaazi et al., 2015). Environmental impacts of reusable products depend highly on washing and drying habits for these products (Leroy et al., 2016). ...
... Environmental impacts of reusable products depend highly on washing and drying habits for these products (Leroy et al., 2016). Mazgaj et al. (2006) found that the environmental impacts of sanitary pads were 20-85% higher than those of tampons without an applicator, and that the most significant environmental impact of both products was fossil fuel depletion. Manufacture of plastic in the petrochemical industry and the use of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and energy in cotton cultivation accounted for most of the use of this resource. ...
... Transportation of both raw materials and final product to all consumers all over the world (Mazgaj et al., 2006) Number of products used for one average woman over one year Composting (100%) of bioplastic-based baby nappies produced a better performance (in 12 out of 18 environmental impacts studied) than 65% landfilling and 35% incineration for a conventional nappy (Mirabella et al., 2013). However, composting increased environmental impacts in terrestrial ecotoxicity, agricultural and urban land occupation, natural land transformation, and water and metal depletion (Mirabella et al., 2013). ...
Article
Absorbent hygiene products (AHP) have received much interest due to the notion that their end-of-life (EoL) stage has high environmental impacts. Since the use of AHP will continue to rise in the foreseeable future, information that helps with a reduction in the environmental impacts of AHP through their life cycle is needed. This research presents an estimation of AHP in municipal waste, and it also reviews and discusses waste management options, available treatments at bench, pilot or full scale, and life cycle assessments (LCAs) available in the literature. Municipal waste of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development contains on average 2.7% of baby nappies, 4.8% of adult nappies and 0.5% of sanitary pads (in weight), whereas that of Latin-American countries have 7.3%, 3.3%, and 0.9%, respectively. Management options for AHP waste in developed countries are landfilling and incineration, while in developing countries AHP are disposed of in dumpsites and landfills. Most LCAs identify significant environmental impacts in the production of raw materials, while EoL scenarios involving incineration and landfill were found to have a significant contribution to global warming potential. Substitution with alternative products has been suggested as a way of decreasing environmental impacts; however, their use frequently causes a trade-off on different impact categories. Municipalities could use a wide range of policy tools, such as extended producer responsibility systems, bans, levies, ecolabelling, or a combination of these, to reduce the environmental and economic burden of AHP waste.
... respectively. For estimates on weight and information on biodegradable content we used the report by Mazgaj et al. (2006) for a Libresse pad and OB tampon. 15 We used 6.8 grams as the weight of a menstrual pad and a plastic content of 35% of the weight; corresponding numbers for tampons were 3.6 grams and a plastic content of 4% of the weight. ...
... For estimates on weight and information on biodegradable content we used the report by Mazgaj et al. (2006) for a Libresse pad and OB tampon. 15 We used 6.8 grams as the weight of a menstrual pad and a plastic content of 35% of the weight; corresponding numbers for tampons were 3.6 grams and a plastic content of 4% of the weight. As an estimate of monthly blood loss we used 35 ml (normal range is 5-80 ml). ...
... For estimations on costs of disposable pads and tampons, we explored prices for commonly used products in six countries (the USA, the UK, India, Spain, China, and Canada) and calculated average costs per product. Extrapolating information on content and weight of menstrual products, 18 we estimated waste and costs for a range of 9-25 units per product per month and compared these with consistent use of one menstrual cup for 10 years. Additional information on methods used to assess menstrual cup information, availability and prices, qualitative studies, and costs and waste, and additional information on data extraction are in the appendix (pp 3-5). ...
... When assessing uptake and acceptability, all six relevant qualitative studies were from low-income and middleincome countries (appendix pp 10-13), 30,33,34,38,56,58,59 whereas 20 studies with quantitative information on uptake and acceptability were from low-income and middleincome countries and high-income countries (appendix pp [14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]. 13,19,[22][23][24]32,33,38,39,[41][42][43]46,48,49,[51][52][53][54]56 In low-income and middle-income countries, usual products for menstruation included cloths, disposable pads, cotton wool, tissue paper, or other items, and leakage and chaffing is a common concern. ...
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Background: Girls and women need effective, safe, and affordable menstrual products. Single-use products are regularly selected by agencies for resource-poor settings; the menstrual cup is a less known alternative. We reviewed international studies on menstrual cup leakage, acceptability, and safety and explored menstrual cup availability to inform programmes. Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Popline, Cinahl, Global Health database, Emerald, Google Scholar, Science.gov, and WorldWideScience from database inception to May 14, 2019, for quantitative or qualitative studies published in English on experiences and leakage associated with menstrual cups, and adverse event reports. We also screened the Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database from the US Food and Drug Administration for events related to menstrual cups. To be eligible for inclusion, the material needed to have information on leakage, acceptability, or safety of menstrual cups. The main outcome of interest was menstrual blood leakage when using a menstrual cup. Safety outcomes of interest included serious adverse events; vaginal abrasions and effects on vaginal microflora; effects on the reproductive, digestive, or urinary tract; and safety in poor sanitary conditions. Findings were tabulated or combined by use of forest plots (random-effects meta-analysis). We also did preliminary estimates on costs and environmental savings potentially associated with cups. This systematic review is registered on PROSPERO, number CRD42016047845. Findings: Of 436 records identified, 43 studies were eligible for analysis (3319 participants). Most studies reported on vaginal cups (27 [63%] vaginal cups, five [12%] cervical cups, and 11 [25%] mixed types of cups or unknown) and 15 were from low-income and middle-income countries. 22 studies were included in qualitative or quantitative syntheses, of which only three were of moderate-to-high quality. Four studies made a direct comparison between menstrual cups and usual products for the main outcome of leakage and reported leakage was similar or lower for menstrual cups than for disposable pads or tampons (n=293). In all qualitative studies, the adoption of the menstrual cup required a familiarisation phase over several menstrual cycles and peer support improved uptake (two studies in developing countries). In 13 studies, 73% (pooled estimate: n=1144; 95% CI 59-84, I2=96%) of participants wished to continue use of the menstrual cup at study completion. Use of the menstrual cup showed no adverse effects on the vaginal flora (four studies, 507 women). We identified five women who reported severe pain or vaginal wounds, six reports of allergies or rashes, nine of urinary tract complaints (three with hydronephrosis), and five of toxic shock syndrome after use of the menstrual cup. Dislodgement of an intrauterine device was reported in 13 women who used the menstrual cup (eight in case reports, and five in one study) between 1 week and 13 months of insertion of the intrauterine device. Professional assistance to aid removal of menstrual cup was reported among 47 cervical cup users and two vaginal cup users. We identified 199 brands of menstrual cup, and availability in 99 countries with prices ranging US$0·72-46·72 (median $23·3, 145 brands). Interpretation: Our review indicates that menstrual cups are a safe option for menstruation management and are being used internationally. Good quality studies in this field are needed. Further studies are needed on cost-effectiveness and environmental effect comparing different menstrual products. Funding: UK Medical Research Council, Department for International Development, and Wellcome Trust.
... The outcomes of this process would more than likely be fuel and monomers that could be used as feedstock for new useful products (Devasahayam et al., 2019). Mazgaj et al. (2006) conducted an environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) of pads and tampons with a focus on the impacts of raw materials, product processing, transport and disposal. The analysis indicated that pads have a higher negative environmental footprint in almost all aspects when compared to tampons, although tampons have high environmental impacts from chemicals required in the agriculture process. ...
Article
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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.
... DSNs) cause irreversible environmental damage due to the materials used in making the product, methods of product disposal, long decomposition period of nearly 500 years and the ability of the DSNs to continually absorb groundwater even after disposal (Basu, 2018;Mazgaj, Yaramenka, & Malovana, 2006;Ritch, Brennan, & MacLeod, 2009;Subhasis et al., 2016). India generates more than 113,000 tonnes of menstrual waste each year from disposable sanitary pads (Sharma, 2019), an increase of nearly 70% since 2016 (Geertz et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Abstract Although consumption taboos are prevalent in everyday life, consumer research interest in the topic remains scant and focuses mostly on taboo products. This research moves by focusing on taboo persons and explores how barriers are presented in consumption choices for such individuals. A qualitative research design was used in the study and in-depth interviews were conducted with 31 women from middle and upper income classes who showed an inclination to purchase sustainable menstrual products (SMPs). This study analyses how the intimate and private consumption of SMPs gets transformed into a complex socially embedded consumption choice. The study explores how and why a social structure steeped in symbolic violence towards menstruating women constrains the consumption of SMPs. Disillusioned by patriarchal subordination, the women preferred to respect boundaries and maintain stability in their life. Despite their socialization and engagement in several sustainable consumption decisions prior to the consideration of SMPs, these women exhibited a lack of agency as they could not transgress orthodox gender boundaries even as their choice reinforced prevailing social inequalities. They sought to conform to the gendered habitus instead of engaging in an act of defiance. This act of self-restraint, however, results in tensions as the women try to legitimize a consumption choice which is inconsistent with their attitude towards sustainable consumption. The study discusses the consequences of the new restrictions faced by the women as they reframe concerns about the environment and justify their choice.
... DSNs) cause irreversible environmental damage due to the materials used in making the product, methods of product disposal, long decomposition period of nearly 500 years and the ability of the DSNs to continually absorb groundwater even after disposal (Basu, 2018;Mazgaj, Yaramenka, & Malovana, 2006;Ritch, Brennan, & MacLeod, 2009;Subhasis et al., 2016). India generates more than 113,000 tonnes of menstrual waste each year from disposable sanitary pads (Sharma, 2019), an increase of nearly 70% since 2016 (Geertz et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Although consumption taboos are prevalent in everyday life, consumer research interest in the topic remains scant and focuses mostly on taboo products. This research moves on by focusing on taboo persons and explores how barriers are presented in consumption choices for such individuals. A qualitative research design was used in the study and in‐depth interviews were conducted with 31 women from middle and upper income classes who showed an inclination to purchase sustainable menstrual products. This study analyzes how the intimate and private consumption of sustainable menstrual products gets transformed into a complex socially embedded consumption choice. The study explores how and why a social structure steeped in symbolic violence towards menstruating women constrains the consumption of sustainable menstrual products. Disillusioned by patriarchal subordination, the women preferred to respect boundaries and maintain stability in their life. Despite their socialization and engagement in several sustainable consumption decisions prior to the consideration of sustainable menstrual products, these women exhibited a lack of agency as they could not transgress orthodox gender boundaries even as their choice reinforced prevailing social inequalities. They sought to conform to the gendered habitus instead of engaging in an act of defiance. This act of self‐restraint however, results in tensions as the women try to legitimize a consumption choice which is inconsistent with their attitude toward sustainable consumption. The study discusses the consequences of the new restrictions faced by the women as they reframe concerns about the environment and justify their choice.
... Considering imported sanitary pads, Libresse pads have been produced in Europe since the 1950s. (Mazgaj et al., 2006) prepared a comparative ELCA study of Libresse pads and tampons in Sweden that serves as the primary data source for these pads imported into Uganda. Libresse pads are assumed to be comprised of a non-woven fabric top layer, a pressed cellulose core, and a coated paper bottom layer with adhesive, wrapped individually and in a package with LDPE film. ...
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Assessing the life cycle of a specific sanitary pad, MakaPads, in Uganda defines unique and vital measurements of social equity, especially for women laborers. A combined approach of social life cycle assessment, SLCA, and environmental life cycle assessment, ELCA, has been utilized to determine sanitary pads' social equity and environmental impacts. The development of the MakaPads product is an example of a design by Africans for Africans; whereas Libresse is an example of a European-designed product used by Africans. The ELCA and SLCA of both Libresse pads and MakaPads include the stages of raw material extraction, energy production, assembly, transport to or within Uganda, and incineration; and the contextualized economic costs of sanitary pads and income generation from the MakaPads factories. Two SLCA quantifiable characteristics that distinguish MakaPads from imported pads developed here are affordability and manufacturing wage impacts. We conclude first from the ELCA that the majority of environmental impacts for MakaPads are at least half of those of the Librese product and second from the SLCA that there are significant social benefits to local design and manufacturing of products for girls and women. Our recommendation is that Sub-Saharan African countries should encourage policies that support local design and manufacturing of sustainable products rather than being reliant on imported products which can have higher environmental impacts and lower social equity benefits.
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Menstrual hygiene management is a big problem for women and girls in Zimbabwe as the sanitary pads are expensive. An average pack of 8-10 at $US1.50 is significantly expensive for females coming from low income families, which has caused women and girls to resort to unhealthy ways such as using grass and cow dung for managing their menstruation, which exposes them to infections. The aim was to develop a low-cost re-usable microfibre sanitary pad with good performance properties and low cost maintenance, affordable to poor women. The design was based on the Johnson and Johnson re-usable (a rectangular shape) sanitary pads. The new re-usable pad was developed from polyester microfibre materials. It has a pocket for an insert of another material that will enhance the collection of blood. The developed pad was tested for wicking, leakage and strike through properties. The newly developed pad exhibited better properties and yet cheaper than the commercial disposable pads.
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