Article

The value of reusable feminine hygiene products evaluated by comparative environmental life cycle assessment

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Abstract

New options for feminine hygiene products could greatly reduce solid waste impacts and have other environmental benefits. As a group of widely used but rarely examined consumer products, feminine hygiene products offer great potential for impact reduction if alternative products are used or conventional products improved. Through a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) of three menstrual products: disposable tampons and sanitary pads, and reusable menstrual cups, this study details the mid-point impacts of each product. Data from the Ecoinvent database and literature were used to complete the assessment. Disposable tampons and sanitary pads had far greater impacts across each category than the re-useable menstrual cup. Between the two disposable options, sanitary pads were the most impactful product, though the quantitative differences between the two disposable products is within uncertainty associated with variable use habits among women. The use of wood pulp as a component of the absorbent material in sanitary pads has substantial benefit for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, that benefit is coupled with increased toxicity, mostly due to the potential for dioxin generation during bleaching. For tampons, removing the applicator from the product substantially reduced several of the impacts and generally made them a better choice than a sanitary pad. The impacts of the reusable menstrual cup used for one year were less than 1.5% the environmental impacts of the disposable products and approximately only 10% of the cost. Thereby clearly demonstrating the overall value of the reusable option in a class of highly used and important consumer products.

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... However, most of these works are based on survey results, addressed to understand the disposal practices, whereas the environmental implications due to the derived waste are essentially not presented and discussed. The first literature available considerations about the environmental sustainability of menstrual hygiene products have enhanced the advantages of using reusable disposal products (Hait and Powers, 2019) and proposed the use of biodegradable absorbents materials (Foster and Montgomery, 2021), also for women living in low-and middle-income countries. However, it is evident that this possibility cannot be considered in all the situations, as for example for migrants, generally living in poor hygienic conditions (as for example in camps). ...
... Unfortunately, a research survey (Ali and Rizvi, 2010) showed that in most developing nations there is a low attention to this crucial problem. Concerning some possible solutions to limit the environmental problems caused by MHW, some authors have suggested to reduce the mass of the adsorbent's products used for sanitary napkins, and to use more sustainable raw materials in producing menstrual hygiene products, as for example wood pulp for the absorbent (Hait and Powers, 2019), able also to guarantee less and cost-effective management. ...
... Some of that, for example, acrylate (Sauder and Pratt, 2015), can release potentially toxic monomers or/and additives from the polymer network (Bettencourt et al., 2010). Other products contain pesticides, that can originate also from natural fibers as cotton (Kaur et al., 2018), like atrazine (Hait andPowers, 2019), pyrethrum, andprocymidone (DeVito andSchecter, 2002), which can contribute to acute and chronic aquatic toxicity. Adhesive can contain hazardous chemicals like methyldibromo glutaronitrile. ...
Article
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Menstrual hygiene waste management has received lack of attention and hence it has been poorly investigated, mainly due to its association to social and cultural aspects of a natural process, that is often surrounded of entrenched stigma and taboos. Therefore, data about quantities and full lifecycle of the generated waste are often not available or suffer of large incertitude. However, this argument represents a relevant and critical issue, not only for the health of the women, their equality, and dignity, but also possible associated environmental concerns. This work highlights the necessity and the urgency to face the problems associated with menstrual hygiene waste, which cannot be still considered only relegated to low-income countries. It gives the dimension of the waste associated to migrants in the incoming areas, which is often neglected in sanitation program implementation. This work also describes the existing knowledge gaps and suggests some actions to implement in the next future. In the pandemic context, menstrual hygiene needs urgent attention, also to understand the possible implication of this waste, generated for example in refugees' camps, in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and to prevent eventual unknown environmental issues connected with the reconvention of some factories from the production of menstrual hygiene products to facemasks manufacture.
... This product is made up of the underwear fabric and an absorbent layer, designed to catch blood flow and prevent leakages. The products are similar to menstrual pads, but designed to last around 2-3 years, depending on use (Hait and Powers, 2019). Previous research into consumer attitudes towards reusable menstrual products and current use patterns found that around 10% of respondents use reusable menstrual products, and that most participants often chose disposable products out of habit (Zero Waste Scotland, 2019). ...
... Menstrual cups were designed to replace tampons and are composed of medical grade silicone. Each cup weighs around 15 g overall, and can be used for up to 10 years (Hait and Powers, 2019). Reusable underwear are designed to be washed and re-worn throughout a period, and can also be used for incontinence. ...
... Thus, a functional unit of one year was used for this study. Data collected by STATISTA (2020) in line with (Hait and Powers, 2019) indicated the average person uses between 192 and 240 single use pads and tampons per year. Based upon the existing data, the 'Annual Product Use' (APU) data used for analysis was 196 units for pads and 191 units for tampons. ...
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.
... The Fig. 3 shows the approximate kg CO 2 emissions from one unit of disposable sanitary pad and BFP. The approximate CO 2 emission of one disposable sanitary pad is 0.041 kg CO 2 [49], while that of one unit of BFP, is expected to be far less than 0.01 kg CO 2 . ...
... A key aspect of feasibility of emerging menstrual product alternatives relates to its carbon footprint. Life cycle assessments of menstrual options [30,49] show the spectrum of impact women's choices have on their own health as well as the environment. A conventional pad with 10g of plastic [49] can take several centuries to decompose [67] in comparison to a BFP expected to take approximately 6 months to degrade [58]. ...
... Life cycle assessments of menstrual options [30,49] show the spectrum of impact women's choices have on their own health as well as the environment. A conventional pad with 10g of plastic [49] can take several centuries to decompose [67] in comparison to a BFP expected to take approximately 6 months to degrade [58]. Comparison of carbon emissions from disposable and BFPs showed relatively high differentials between them that are further enhanced when the latter is used as a reusable option. ...
Article
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Background Menstrual hygiene products used by women have evolved in the past several decades with comfort, ease of use and cost driving women’s choices. In a country like India, where women form nearly 50% of the population, the sheer volume of periodic menstrual non-biodegradable waste generated has significant environmental implications. With majority of the country hailing from low-middle class backgrounds, observing healthy menstrual hygiene practices with environmentally friendly products necessitates the consideration of affordable and highly sustainable alternatives. Further, during the COVID-19 pandemic, period poverty is higher than ever, causing women to turn to the reusable product market for affordable and long lasting alternatives. Hence, we studied the Feasibility and Acceptability (FA) of a novel banana fiber based menstrual pad (BFP) amongst women living in rural and urban environments. Methods The quantitative study of FA of the BFP was conducted amongst 155 rural and 216 urban participants in India. For greater authenticity of the FA study, we considered participants who used BFP for more than 4 months (Rural = 111 and Urban = 186) in the study. The survey data included responses from participants from Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. A 22-item survey instrument was developed and validated using Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and reliability test (Cronback’s $$\alpha$$ α ). Binomial logistic regression analysis was used to analyse the factors that affect the FA of BFP based on the survey responses. In addition to survey analysis, environmental sustainability through $$\hbox {CO}_2$$ CO 2 footprint analysis, microbial load, pH and the ability of the BFP to withstand pressure after absorption were also studied. Results The results indicated high levels of feasibility (rural $$= 82.2\%$$ = 82.2 % , urban $$= 80.3\%$$ = 80.3 % and acceptability (rural $$= 80.2\%$$ = 80.2 % , urban $$= 77.5\%$$ = 77.5 % ) of BFPs across both participant groups. Comparing key BFP characteristics such as leakage and comfort to participants’ prior practices revealed general satisfaction on the performance of BFP, leading to them recommending BFPs to others. User perception on the reasons for their preference of BFP highlighted their concern for environment, health and cost as decisive factors. The microbial load on a 3 year reused BFP was found to be similar to an unused BFP. Regression analysis showed cost as an important indicator for feasibility ( $$\hbox {OR} =1.233$$ OR = 1.233 ; 95% CI = 1.083–3.248) and acceptability ( $$\hbox {OR}= 1.422$$ OR = 1.422 ; 95% CI = 1.203–3.748) amongst rural participants. Conclusion Based on feasibility and acceptability results, BFP is a promising consideration as an environmentally sound, non-invasive; yet reusable alternative to fulfil MHM needs in populous countries such as India. Longer term studies in larger samples are necessary to validate these findings.
... A study by Hoffmann et al. [39] showed that cloth diapers have a better environmental performance than disposable diapers, and they can be further improved by optimised reuse enabling services. Another study by Hait et al. [40] on non-packaging products established that reusable menstrual cups used for one year have less than 1.5% of the environmental impact of disposable sanitary products. A study by Makov et al. [41] showed that waterdispensing stations (e.g., Woosh) have the potential to reduce the adverse environmental impacts associated with the consumption of bottled water. ...
... Reuse models rely on infrastructure that allows FMCGs to be used recurrently by the same consumer (exclusive reuse) or to be recalled, reconditioned, and reinstated in the market (sequential reuse). Therefore, in reusable products, the use of durable components reduces the requirement for energy and water in comparison to manufacturing frequently and from "scratch" [3,38,40,42,43]. For example, in exclusive reuse models, the availability of food dispensers (e.g., London Unpackaged) enables the consumer to use reusable vessels multiple times, thereby reducing the overall energy required to manufacture them compared to single-use packaging. ...
Preprint
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Problem: Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) are products that are purchased and consumed frequently to satisfy continuous consumers' demands. In a linear economy, FMCGs are typically offered as single-use and disposable products. Limitations in product design, insufficient collection systems and inefficient recovery processes prevent high recycling rates. As a result, FMCGs often end up in landfill or the environment, contributing to waste accumulation and pollution. Whilst recycling is the most common waste prevention strategy practiced by the industry, the process is limited to addressing only the final stage of the product life cycle, omitting the overproduction and consumption of materials typical of FMCGs. Reuse, instead, is a strategy capable of extending the value of resources by slowing material flows. Novel reuse models requiring the consumer to interact with durable and reusable primary packaging and products are emerging in the FMCG industry However, the constituent elements and operation principles of such reuse models are not fully understood. The aim of this research is to develop a comprehensive characterisation of reuse models and to evaluate their potential to deliver environmental value. Method: Ninety-four reuse offerings for packaging and products from a broad range of FMCG categories were selected and analysed to identify their reuse system elements. The reuse models that emerged were subsequently evaluated in terms of their capability to deliver environmental value when compared to conventional single-use and disposable FMCGs in the linear model. Results: Three of the reuse models are based on exclusive reuse behaviour and were termed: 1) exclusively reused products, 2) exclusively reused products with reuse-enabling infrastructure and 3) reuse-enabling infrastructure. Two of the reuse models are based on sequential reuse behaviour and were termed: 4) sequentially reused products with preparation for reuse infrastructure and 5) sequentially reused products. Whilst the five reuse models can operate standalone, some offerings were found to embed a multi-model approach. The subsequent analysis suggests that both exclusive and sequential reuse model types are capable of delivering environmental value by reducing the use of natural resources in FMCGs, and retaining their value in the economy. Sequential reuse models, in particular, were found to have a greater capability to increase the share of recyclable resources by offering access to infrastructure for the closure of material loops. Conclusions: Consumers can currently access five models of reuse and choose between exclusive and sequential reuse behaviours. When adopted in conjunction with recycling, reuse models can enable more efficient consumption of FMCGs. Providing the infrastructure necessary to enable reuse and recycling is key to the successful and sustainable deployment of the models in the FMCG industry.
... Demand for environmentally friendly products that produce less waste is increasing [1][2][3]. The re-usable menstrual cup is a convenient, comfortable, safe, economic and eco-friendly choice for menstruation [4][5][6][7]. The menstrual cup is inserted into the vagina below the cervix, where it collects rather than absorbs menstrual flow. ...
... The menstrual cup is inserted into the vagina below the cervix, where it collects rather than absorbs menstrual flow. Menstrual cups can hold 10-38 mL of blood and, depending on the menstrual flow, are emptied every 4-12 h, and cleaned instead of being thrown away after a single use [4]. Menstrual cups are usually made of medical-grade silicone, while a few brands use thermoplastic elastomer (TPA) or rubber [5]. ...
Article
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Background: We sought to determine the effectiveness of common cleaning procedures in eliminating S. aureus from silicone menstrual cups. Methods: In this in vitro study, we tested four cleaning techniques: (1) cold water; (2) cold water and liquid soap; (3) cold water followed by steeping the cup in boiled water for 5 min in a ceramic mug covered with a small plate; and (4) cold water and soap followed by steeping the cup in boiled water as in (3). Human blood was coated to the inner and outer surface of each cup, dried, and incubated with 106S. aureus colony-forming units (CFU/mL). All tests were performed in triplicate. Viable bacterial abundance was measured with decadic dilution and drop plate or surface plating. Results: Bacteria were most effectively eliminated by cleaning cups with soap and water and then steeping in boiled water (0 CFU/cup vs. 2.075 × 108/cup no cleaning, p = 0.005). This was not statistically significantly different from washing cups with water only and steeping 5 min in boiled water (14 CFU/cup). Raised lettering on the outer surface of the menstrual cups resulted in more bacterial recovery from pieces with lettering than without lettering. Conclusions: These results advance knowledge of between-period menstrual cup cleaning recommendations, suggesting that the logistical challenges of continuous boiling may be eliminated with steeping at least 5 min.
... A study by Hoffmann et al. [39] showed that cloth diapers have a better environmental performance than disposable diapers, and they can be further improved by optimised reuse enabling services. Another study by Hait et al. [40] on non-packaging products established that reusable menstrual cups used for one year have less than 1.5% of the environmental impact of disposable sanitary products. A study by Makov et al. [41] showed that waterdispensing stations (e.g., Woosh) have the potential to reduce the adverse environmental impacts associated with the consumption of bottled water. ...
... Reuse models rely on infrastructure that allows FMCGs to be used recurrently by the same consumer (exclusive reuse) or to be recalled, reconditioned, and reinstated in the market (sequential reuse). Therefore, in reusable products, the use of durable components reduces the requirement for energy and water in comparison to manufacturing frequently and from "scratch" [3,38,40,42,43]. For example, in exclusive reuse models, the availability of food dispensers (e.g., London Unpackaged) enables the consumer to use reusable vessels multiple times, thereby reducing the overall energy required to manufacture them compared to singleuse packaging. ...
Article
Full-text available
Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) are products that are purchased and consumed frequently to satisfy continuous consumer demand. In a linear economy, FMCGs are typically offered as single-use and disposable products. Limitations in product design, insufficient collection systems, and inefficient recovery processes prevent high recycling rates. As a result, FMCGs often end up in landfill or the environment, contributing to waste accumulation, and pollution. Whilst recycling is the most common waste prevention strategy practiced by the industry, the process is limited to addressing only the final stage of the product life cycle, omitting the overproduction and consumption of materials typical of FMCGs. Instead, reuse is a strategy that is capable of extending the value of resources by slowing material flows. Novel reuse models that require the consumer to interact with durable primary packaging and products are emerging in the FMCG industry. However, the constituent elements and operation principles of such reuse models are not fully understood. The aim of this research is to develop a comprehensive characterisation of reuse models and to evaluate their potential to deliver environmental value. Method: Ninety-two reuse offerings were selected and analysed to identify their reuse system elements. The analysis led to the identification of a framework including five reuse models, which were also evaluated to establish their capability to deliver environmental value when compared to conventional single-use and disposable FMCGs. Results: Currently in the FMCG sector, reusable products are mostly durable packaging, such as bottles and containers for beverages, foods, personal and home care goods, and are infrequently durable products, such as personal and baby care goods, including razors and nappies. Three reuse models involve exclusive reuse, a behaviour by which a reusable product is used and kept by a single user throughout the product lifetime. In exclusive reuse models, users are provided with either a reusable product (model 1), a reusable product with preparation for reuse infrastructure (model 2), or access to preparation for reuse infrastructure (model 3). Two reuse models involve sequential reuse, a behaviour by which a reusable product is used by multiple users throughout the product lifetime and returned after each use to a provider. In sequential reuse models, users are provided with either a reusable product with preparation for reuse infrastructure and provider-operated recovery services (model 4), or a reusable product and provider-operated services for recovery and preparation for reuse (model 5). Whilst the five reuse models can operate standalone, some offerings were found to embed a multi-model approach. Both exclusive and sequential reuse models are capable of delivering environmental value by reducing the use of natural resources and retaining their value in the economy. In particular, sequential reuse models were found to have a greater capability to increase the share of recyclable resources by offering access to infrastructure for the closure of material loops. Conclusions: Consumers can currently access five reuse models and choose between exclusive and sequential reuse behaviours. When adopted in conjunction with recycling, reuse models can enable a more efficient consumption of FMCGs. Providing the infrastructure necessary to enable reuse and recycling is key to the successful and sustainable deployment of the reuse models.
... With advances in technology, innovative atypical menstrual products are developed, which make menstrual products on the market more diversified and cause women to promote menstrual pads, menstrual cups, and menstrual underpants. With increasing discussions of women's autonomous right of their bodies on the Internet and in society, new forms of menstrual products are making a comeback [38]. ...
... As there are few legal distributors of menstrual cups in Taiwan and the types are not diversified enough, this results in difficulties for consumers to find the type of cup that suit their bodies [2,3,6]. Therefore, we recommend that the government or private organizations develop solutions to the cost issue and launch more brands and models on the market to allow women to learn about their physical structure and female consumers to buy the most suitable menstrual cups at the lowest price [27,38,52]. Compared with disposable menstrual pads, on average, eco-friendly menstrual products are cheaper if used for the long term, which is an economic motivation for their use and one of the conditions to promote them, and can provide a reference basis and serve as an indicator for the future market of menstrual products. ...
Article
Full-text available
With rapid technology developments and the convenient and fast pace of life in recent years, many people are using disposable products, which cause environmental and ecological damages. A variety of eco-friendly menstrual products have been launched on the market, and “menstrual pads” now have a large market share in Taiwan’s menstrual product industry. This study interviewed experts and collected questionnaires for qualitative and quantitative investigation and analysis. The results show that women have positive and open concepts regarding sustainability, as well as a good understanding of their body and are very interested in the performance and usage efficiency of products. The results also indicate that consumers purchase based on their lifestyles; most women collected enough product information before purchasing while overcoming the difficulties in dealing with the environment and learning to adapt them, and the majority of consumers attach importance to comfort, volume, and duration of blood absorption. The results suggest that the government and private enterprises should increase and improve sanitation education and sanitary facilities and guide the approach and serve as an important reference index for the promotion of eco-friendly menstrual products for environmental benefits.
... The dataset includes product details (mass and materials), life cycle inventory (LCI) data and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) results for all mass and energy flows. Hait and Powers [1] used the data in a comparative LCA. ...
Article
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A life cycle assessment (LCA) of feminine hygiene products was completed with three samples considered representative of sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups. Gabi LCA software was used to organize inventory data with the ILCD (v.1.0.10) life cycle impact assessment method used to determine mid-point and normalized impact scores. Data from the ecoinvent database, and literature were used to complete the assessment. The dataset includes product details (mass and materials), life cycle inventory (LCI) data and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) results for all mass and energy flows. Hait and Powers [1] used the data in a comparative LCA.
... In China, menstrual hygiene management is a neglected sanitation topic due to sociocultural beliefs, while studies on menstrual hygiene and waste management have been implemented in the least developed countries, such as Malawi (Roxburgh et al., 2020) and Zambia (Chinyama et al., 2018). The value of three menstrual products (disposable tampons and sanitary pads and reusable menstrual cups) were evaluated through a comparative life cycle assessment (Hait and Powers, 2019). Such interesting studies are still missing in China and would be worth of investigations in the future, on the condition that menstrual hygiene management is not a persistent taboo any more. ...
Article
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The provision of sanitation services for fast-growing urban populations is one of the world's urgent challenges. Hutong neighborhoods in Beijing, capital of China, cannot be rebuilt due to the protection of historical heritage, while residents still need to keep the habit of defecating in public toilets. One hundred public toilets with non-sewered sanitation in the Hutong neighborhoods of Beijing were visited to investigate the actual operating status in response to the “toilet revolution” campaign. The fault tree approach was used to identify the barriers toward a decent and environment-friendly public toilet and evaluate potential risks from the malfunction of various components. Four subsystems are defined and elaborated to calculate the fault possibility. These subsystems are environment- and user-friendly, regarded as ancillary facilities, and used for fecal sludge (FS) management. Statistical analysis of targeted cases indicated that fault probabilities of environmental considerations, user-friendly considerations, ancillary facilities, FS management are calculated as 0.79, 0.96, 0.96, and 0, respectively. The subsystems were weighted using a Delphi method concept. Results showed that the well operation ratio of Beijing Hutong public toilets is only 32%, and the sanitation service value chain can be further optimized. This study also provides references for other countries, which are dedicated to promoting urban sanitation and public health.
... Broadly speaking, the reuse of durable products (a) gained particular traction in academic literature since 2011 (9 papers). Reusable cups feature multiple times (Changwichan & Gheewala, 2020;Poortinga & Whitaker, 2019;Woods & Bakshi, 2014;Hocking, 1994) in comparison to reusable bottles (Choate et al., 2018), menstrual cups (Hait & Powers, 2019), and nappies (Miller, 2011), which are sparingly researched. This suggests the expansion of FMCG durables across product categories. ...
Conference Paper
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Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) comprise products that are bought frequently at a low cost in sectors such as food, health care, beauty and grooming. The single-use nature of most FMCGs means that they are thrown away regularly and sent to landfill or incinerated. Circular practices offer an opportunity to combat these outcomes. Whilst traditional recycling schemes are offered at scale, reuse is being recognised as a practice to further increase the utility of materials. To operate successfully, consumers are expected to perform both recycling and reuse behaviours in ever more complex and fluid ways. However, the literature disproportionately focuses on recycling over reuse, often discusses the two concepts separately, and does not adequately address the unique behaviours related to FMCGs. Therefore, a more nuanced understanding of the literature and a thorough break down of recycling and reuse behaviours is needed. This integrative review was conducted in two-stages. First, an online search identified eight different model categories of recycling and reuse offered for FMCGs, and each were defined by key enabling behaviours. Second, a literature search was conducted and selected papers were allocated to the categories of a new framework, synthesising the literature on recycling and reuse. The framework confirms the predominance of recycling in the literature and identifies three transformations that are taking place: (1) reuse of durable FMCGs is integrating service-based offerings, (2) reuse is taking on the features of recycling, and (3) recycling schemes are diversifying. Further research is needed to create deeper understanding of each of the recycling and reuse models.
... The development of electronic artificial skin or e-skin is a complex problem that deals with diverse sciences and disciplines, including electronics (soft robotics, wearables, haptic actuators, and neuroprosthesis control), bioengineering and materials sciences (tissue regeneration, personalized medicine, biosensors), and manufacturing (polymer solution casting, inkjet printing) [1,2], as can be seen in Figure 1a. New materials and manufacturing procedures have enabled the production of larger and more sensitive surface areas [3]. The structure of human skin has inspired researchers to recreate the functionality of these tissues using multilayered material structures. ...
Article
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The strategy of embedding conductive materials on polymeric matrices has produced functional and wearable artificial electronic skin prototypes capable of transduction signals, such as pressure, force, humidity, or temperature. However, these prototypes are expensive and cover small areas. This study proposes a more affordable manufacturing strategy for manufacturing conductive layers with 6 × 6 matrix micropatterns of RTV-2 silicone rubber and Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (SWCNT). A novel mold with two cavities and two different micropatterns was designed and tested as a proof-of-concept using Low-Force Stereolithography-based additive manufacturing (AM). The effect SWCNT concentrations (3 wt.%, 4 wt.%, and 5 wt.%) on the mechanical properties were characterized by quasi-static axial deformation tests, which allowed them to stretch up to ~160%. The elastomeric soft material’s hysteresis energy (Mullin’s effect) was fitted using the Ogden–Roxburgh model and the Nelder–Mead algorithm. The assessment showed that the resulting multilayer material exhibits high flexibility and high conductivity (surface resistivity ~7.97 × 104 Ω/sq) and that robust soft tooling can be used for other devices.
... Banana fibres contain natural qualities such as UV protection, moisture absorption, anti-oxidant, weather resistance, and biodegradability [26]. Due to these properties, banana fiber pads are one of the sustainable raw materials that can be used for the manufacture of feminine hygiene pads [27].The amount of CO 2 emitted from one disposable sanitary pad is approximately 0.041 kg CO 2, while the amount of CO 2 liberated from BFP is estimated to be less than 0.01 kg CO 2 [27] [28]. One of the important parameters for sanitary pads is pH. ...
Article
The issue of biodegradability must be addressed when considering the protection of our environment. Plastic materials are used in commercially accessible sanitary napkins. One of the primary issues with sanitary napkins is that they are non-biodegradable and can be found in landfills for up to 800 years. Increased menstrual waste has sparked calls for a revolution and the development of innovative techniques for addressing the global issue of commercial sanitary pads’ non-biodegradability. Plant fibres are a more environmentally friendly alternative to commercially supplied pads. Plant fibres are lignocellulosic fibres composed primarily of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin, pectin, and other polymers. In terms of abundance, biodegradability, non-irritant and chemical-free, easily renewable and environmental friendliness, plant fibres represent a suitable alternative to commercial sanitary napkins. The current review focuses on plant fibres such as jute, bamboo, bananas, and kenaf as an alternative raw material in the manufacture of sanitary napkins.
... While reusable products are available in the market as eco-friendly solutions to address that problem, Scotland has become the first nation to legislate free sanitary products for all women. While such bills highly contribute to the welfare of women and are necessary for accomplishing the goal of the more just country, it contributes to the issue of waste management (Hait and Powers 2019). ...
Chapter
Plastic has become a ubiquitous product over the last few decades and in many industries, and it also has become an essential part of domestic life. There are so many uses for it that are beneficial. Nevertheless, public perception has changed recently, and views have become polarized. So plastic has had a bad press recently after many years of being considered as beneficial. The corporate social responsibility impact of plastic is potentially significant and is thoroughly discussed. Moreover, the polarization into good and bad is considered in this chapter alongside the benefits of plastic, the problems with its use, alternatives available, and possible solutions. We finish with a prognosis for plastic in the future.
Article
Purpose This all-inclusive bibliometric study aims to highlight the importance and shift of the researchers and the society towards the sustainable menstrual products (SMPs). This study also provides insights for this taboo topic which needs to be addressed for improving the menstrual hygiene of women. Design/methodology/approach This study adopts a trio of systematic literature review, bibliometric analysis and content analysis of the research articles taken from the SCOPUS database. The influential journals, authors and countries were established with the bibliometric analysis. Most prestigious research articles were identified based on the page-rank analysis. The intellectual structure was established with bibliographic coupling through which various themes were identified. For the content analysis, thematic mapping and author keyword analysis was performed to gain deeper understanding of themes. Findings It was established that the taboo yet novel research domain of SMPs is a necessary step towards the improvement of hygiene of women as well as the economy. The products are here to stay making them a Classic; hence, more research normalizing their usage is necessary. From this analysis, research gaps providing directions to the researchers were identified. Originality/value To the best knowledge of the authors, this is the first study that provides a comprehensive review of the SMPs. The research methodology applied in this review involves the triad of systematic literature review, bibliometric and content analyses study that establishes an intellectual structure and provides an all-inclusive overview of this taboo research area.
Article
Taboos regarding menstruation in society have greatly influenced the lives of women. Women and the environment are also affected by the commercialization of menstrual products by the corporate giants that sell these. This exploratory study was undertaken through in-depth interviews to identify the challenges women face while menstruating. It was broadly seen that women were inclined to use traditional or older menstrual products they were used to. Some reasons for the gaps in the awareness and knowledge regarding what have been called sustainable menstrual products (SMPs) have also been identified to represent the themes of Self-concept, Pre-conceived notions, Accessibility, Routines, and Knowledge. We note here that if such gaps in information are addressed, awareness and knowledge about SMPs would increase and lead towards their adoption. Further, we seek to provide future directions for researchers to study some novel menstrual products that are considered sustainable.
Thesis
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Environmental impacts have been gaining more and more strength and becoming more present in the daily lives of the population, showing that it is essential to think not only about the beginning of life, but in the entire product life cycle. The use of tools to assist in the analysis of the environmental impact of processes and products are very important in decision making, helping the implementation of ecodesign and choosing products that prove to be more sustainable. The Eco Audit tool of the CES EduPack 2018 educational software was used to assess the carbon footprint of six everyday personal care products: toothbrush, dental floss, shampoo, cotton swab, sanitary napkin and adhesive bandage. For each of the products, a hypothetical population of 1 million habitants was adopted with an assumed pattern of consumption during the period of 1 year. In addition, students from the Material Selection discipline of the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at Escola Politécnica - USP (PMT 3414) were monitored throughout the semester. The objective is to propose and discuss the environmentally responsible design of the listed products, in addition to discussing the role of education in environmental awareness and to understand and discuss how legislation, consumer behavior and technical definitions of the product interact.
Article
Disposable hygiene products have evolved into the important parts for millions of people around the world, enhancing the convenience of daily lives. However, development of the disposable hygiene products is restricted by unsustainable production technology, complicated operation process, and poor liquid absorption performance of the absorbent core. Herein, integrated and three-dimensional (3D) multifunctional superabsorbent nonwovens with liquid-triggered fragrance release was prepared via green, fast and scalable multi effect hot-air anchoring method which physically crosslinking the joint thermo-bonding fibers and anchoring fragrance microcapsules/super absorbent polymer (SAP) onto adjacent thermo-bonding fibers simultaneously. The resulting composite nonwovens could three-dimensionally absorb water 33.14 times of its own weight without gel blockage between SAP, and correspondingly release increased intensity fragrance along with enhancing amount of water absorption. Absorption rate t1 and t2 is 83.62% and 50.62% higher than the commercial specimen respectively, and the air permeability is increased by 226.88% compared with the commercial specimen. The superabsorbent nonwovens with controllable fragrance release and odorant synergistic has the potential to be practically applied to functional textiles fields because of the excellent liquid absorption and controlled fragrance release performance, and is easy to be produced on a sustainable, pollution-free and large-scale industrial production.
Article
The present study aims to develop a more sustainable solution to plastic single-use tampon applicators. Tampon applicators are currently made with carboard or PE. Cardboard applicators are generally compostable, however many women prefer plastic applicators for major comfort during application. Plastic tampon applicators are characterized by high flexibility to allow a comfortable application of the tampon and allow the tampon to easily slide through the flexible petals on the upper part of the applicator. The shift to compostable materials is hindered by poor processability, inadequate mechanical properties and high cost of commercially available compostable polymers. In this respect, the present work deals with the design and development of innovative compostable polyester-based blends with high flexibility. The blends are based on binary blends PLA/PBS, PBS/PBAT and PLA/PBAT which were tailored for injection molding of flexible, highly processable and low cost compostable tampon applicators. The effect of the ratios between primary and secondary polymeric phase on flexibility of the petals and processability during injection molding was studied. Moreover, the effect on processability of the addition of a mineral filler to decrease material costs was also evaluated. Twin-screw corotating extrusion of the compound, injection molding of the plastic material for the fabrication of the tampon applicators, and evaluation of the thermophysical and mechanical properties of the applicators are hereinafter discussed. The compostable binary blends are found to be suitable for injection molding of the tampon applicators, exhibiting adequate processability during injection molding, flexibility of the petals during ejection from the mold.
Article
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Menstruation, besides being considered a nationwide taboo, has also been a huge source of pollution. Every year, the manufacturing of Sanitary products and their riddance generates tonnes and tonnes of desecration. A methodized and definitive way to dispose of the menstrual waste without sabotaging the environment is a dire necessity at the moment. The research paper has taken gumption intending to understand how much Women are aware of the apogee of pollution caused by the usage of Sanitary products. Also, their cognizance towards Environment-friendly Sanitary products and their praxis has been determined. A meticulously made hypothesis helps in the understanding of the interrelationships of different variables in the study. Consequently, this study shall help in arbitrating the Sustainable ways of dealing with menstruation. Menstruation, Pollution, Environment-Friendly, Sanitary products, Sustainable.
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Disposable absorbent hygiene products have evolved for superior performance, enhancing the convenience of daily lives. However, the use of disposable hygiene pads has brought safety concerns on chemical exposure, and significant efforts have been made to assess the potential risks associated with use of hygiene pads. This article intends to overview the safety assessment framework of diapers and feminine pads, which includes hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment, risk characterization, and post-market risk management. Risk assessment of various constituents are reviewed for quantification methods and conservative estimation of exposure parameters. By reviewing the up-to-date considerations in risk assessment, we aim to provide insightful discussion on safety evaluation of current versions of disposable absorbent products. More clinical testing and post-market surveillance are needed for continuous monitoring of potential health impacts of advanced products and constituents.
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Sanitary pads for menstrual hygiene have a layered design consisting of a fluid permeable surface (topsheet), an absorbent core, and an impermeable backing with adhesive. Most sanitary pads employ cellulose-based cores. This describes the safety evaluation of a menstrual pad with an emollient-treated topsheet and a novel polymeric foam core. A quantitative risk assessment was performed, which included: (1) toxicological evaluation of the raw material components; (2) quantitative exposure assessments of pad constituents, accounting for the fluid handling properties of the product and pertinent conditions of use; and (3) risk characterization for exposure to raw materials (e.g., potential for skin irritation, contact sensitization, or systemic effects, if relevant) and to the physical article itself (potential effects on skin friction, etc.) No significant risk of adverse effects was found. Five years of post-market surveillance substantiates that the product is well-tolerated (1 health complaint reported per 2 million products shipped to market) and surpasses women's expectations for menstrual protection and overall comfort and dryness. This report illustrates how the classical risk assessment paradigm, informed by the impact of product design, functionality and pertinent use conditions, allowed the systematic safety evaluation of a personal hygiene product with a novel, non-cellulosic absorbent foam core technology. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Article
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Diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) are industrial chemicals found in consumer products that may increase risk of adverse health effects. Although use of personal care/beauty products is known to contribute to phthalate exposure, no prior study has examined feminine hygiene products as a potential phthalate source. In this study, we evaluate whether vaginal douching and other feminine hygiene products increase exposure to phthalates among US reproductive-aged women. We conducted a cross-sectional study on 739 women (aged 20-49) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004 to examine the association between self-reported use of feminine hygiene products (tampons, sanitary napkins, vaginal douches, feminine spray, feminine powder, and feminine wipes/towelettes) with urinary concentrations of monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP), metabolites of DEP and DnBP, respectively. A greater proportion of black women than white and Mexican American women reported use of vaginal douches, feminine spray, feminine powder, and wipes/towelettes in the past month whereas white women were more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to report use of tampons (p < 0.05). Douching in the past month was associated with higher concentrations of MEP but not MnBP. No other feminine hygiene product was significantly associated with either MEP or MnBP. We observed a dose-response relationship between douching frequency and MEP concentrations (ptrend < 0.0001); frequent users (≥2 times/month) had 152.2 % (95 % confidence intervals (CI): (68.2 %, 278.3 %)) higher MEP concentrations than non-users. We also examined whether vaginal douching mediates the relationship between race/ethnicity and phthalates exposures. Black women had 48.4 % (95 % CI: 16.8 %, 88.6 %; p = 0.0002) higher MEP levels than white women. Adjustment for douching attenuated this difference to 26.4 % (95 % CI:-0.9 %, 61.2 %; p = 0.06). Mediation effects of douching were statistically significant for black-white differences (z = 3.71, p < 0.001) but not for differences between Mexican Americans and whites (z = 1.80, p = 0.07). Vaginal douching may increase exposure to DEP and contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in DEP exposure. The presence of environmental chemicals in vaginal douches warrants further examination.
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An assessment of the environmental aspects related to the life cycle of disposable baby diapers in Europe is presented in this paper with the aim of analysing recent improvements and identifying key environmental areas on which to focus in order to further decrease impacts. Average products available on the European market in recent years have been modelled and evaluated from "cradle to grave". Results point out the importance of materials in the definition of the environmental profile of the product. These are followed by the end of life for some impact categories, while the contribution of manufacturing, packaging and transport to the overall LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) results seems of minor relevance. Significant environmental improvements at European level have been achieved in recent years through the design of lighter products and the introduction of superabsorbent polymers. Careful selection and use of materials at the design stage could allow life cycle impacts of products to be further decreased, while ensuring that human health and environmental risks are controlled and that functionality and performance requirements are fulfilled. Indeed, potential malfunctioning of products would result in increasing consumption. Resource efficiency is also important at the manufacturing level to optimise the demand for materials and limit waste production. Special forms of treatment at the end of life stage of the product could instead require significant structural changes of the waste management system. The outcomes of this paper could be applied to support the design and environmental labelling of disposable baby diapers for promoting the production and consumption of product options characterised by lower environmental impacts. © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license.
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The environmental and social costs of consumer societies have increasingly been recognized. Achieving sustainable household consumption requires an understanding of the underlying roots of current consumption levels. Using the case study of menstrual care practices, different theoretical frameworks—or narratives—for understanding household consumption are evaluated. The author argues that theories of consumption that focus on individual choice based on assessments of convenience or cleanliness, or only on cultural imperatives need to be expanded to take account of the wider political–economic context. Using commoditization theory helps explain not only why mass-produced, disposable menstrual products are dominant in free market societies but also why certain theories of consumption are more prevalent.
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A consumer model of environmentally responsible purchase behaviour was tested using covariance structural analysis. The model successfully predicted the purchase of environmentally responsible and non-responsible product alternatives. A hierarchial relationship from values to product specific attitudes to purchase intention to purchase behaviour was confirmed. Individual consequences, which take the personal implications of consumption into account, were found to be just as important in predicting intention as the environmental consequences of a product. The study empirically tested a values typology as a basis to explain attitude formation.
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An in-depth content analysis of five web sites and eight paper zines (self-produced and distributed magazines) was conducted to uncover the inspiration, content, and unique strategies associated with text -based contemporary menstrual product activism. Menstrual product activism is loosely defined as various attempts to expose the hazards of commercial “feminine protection” to both women's bodies and the environment and the promotion of healthier, less expensive, and less resource-intensive alternatives. This activism's discourse draws on many traditions to produce its resistance to mainstream menses management. The movement, first and foremost, is the legacy of several decades of related activism, dating to the mid1970s. Contemporary menstrual product activism updates and modifies this tradition with the “do it yourself” ethic and anti-corporate philosophy of Punk culture and Third Wave feminist ideals of anti-essentialism, inclusion, humor, irony, and reappropriation. To date, this activist agenda has received little scholarly attention, yet it promises to yield meaningful insight into so called Third Wave feminist theory and practice and reveal the resilience of a woman-centered modern history of resistance.
Article
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Menstrual cups have been available for decades, but their use is limited by bulky design and the need for multiple sizes. The Softcup® (Instead, Inc., San Diego, CA) is a simple single-size disposable over-the-counter (OTC) menstrual cup that compresses to tampon shape to facilitate insertion and can be worn during coitus. This report describes preclinical evaluation, clinical testing, and postmarketing monitoring of the Softcup. Preclinical testing complied with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and used standard United States Pharmacopoeia methodologies for assessment of potential toxicity. Clinical testing enrolled 406 women in seven U.S. centers. A detailed written questionnaire assessed safety, acceptability, and effectiveness for menstrual collection. Study safety parameters included pelvic examinations, Pap smears, colposcopy, urinalysis, vaginal pH, wet mounts, gram stain, and vaginal microflora cultures. Postmarketing surveillance of over 100 million Softcups has been conducted by the manufacturer and by the FDA Medwatch system. No toxicity or mutagenicity was observed in preclinical evaluations. In clinical testing, after three cycles of cup use, 37% of subjects rated the cup as better than, 29% as worse than, and 34% as equal to pads or tampons. The cup was preferred for comfort, dryness, and less odor. Cups received lower ratings for disposal and convenience. Eighty-one percent of enrolled women were able to insert and remove their first cup using only written instructions. Use difficulties resulting in study discontinuations included cramping (1%), leakage (1%), and improper fit (3%). No safety parameters were adversely affected. No significant health risks were reported during postmarketing surveillance. These results demonstrate that a single-size vaginal device has no significant health risks and is acceptable to many women without the need for fitting or other medical services.
Article
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Over the past several years there has been concern over exposure to dioxins through the use of tampons and other sanitary products. This article describes attempts to estimate dioxin exposures from tampons and infant diapers; we then compare exposure estimates to dietary dioxin exposures. We analyzed four brands of tampons and four brands of infant diapers obtained from commercial establishments in San Francisco, California, for dioxin concentrations. We estimated exposures to dioxins on the basis of a screening level analysis that assumed all dioxins present were completely absorbed. We also estimated exposures by using a more refined analysis that incorporates partition coefficients to estimate bioavailability. None of the products contained 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, the most potent dioxin, although other dioxins were present at detectable concentrations in all samples. We observed minimal differences in the concentrations of dioxins between 100% cotton and cotton/pulp products. The refined exposure analysis indicates that exposures to dioxins from tampons are approximately 13,000-240,000 times less than dietary exposures. The refined exposure analysis showed that exposure to dioxins from the diet is more than 30,000-2,200,000 times the exposure through diapers in nursing infants. Although dioxins are found in trace amounts in both cotton and pulp sanitary products, exposure to dioxins through tampons and diapers does not significantly contribute to dioxin exposures in the United States.
Article
The present paper highlights the issue of non-biodegradability of personal hygiene product and how it has become a serious environmental concern all over the world. Emphasis is given to use of naturally available absorbent fibres such as organic cotton, banana fibre, jute, bamboo etc, which are widely available and biodegradable in nature having low carbon footprint which not only makes it eco-friendly but also reduces the cost of sanitary pad. And to enhance the retention of fluid cellulose based hydro gel can be used instead of synthetic super absorbent polymer. Sustainability of hygiene product can be attained by replacing petroleum based raw material with an eco-friendly one. © 2018, Synthetic and Art Silk Mills Research Association. All rights reserved.
Book
New Blood offers a fresh interdisciplinary look at feminism-in-flux. For over three decades, menstrual activists have questioned the safety and necessity of feminine care products while contesting menstruation as a deeply entrenched taboo. Chris Bobel shows how a little-known yet enduring force in the feminist health, environmental, and consumer rights movements lays bare tensions between second- and third-wave feminisms and reveals a complicated story of continuity and change within the women's movement. Through her critical ethnographic lens, Bobel focuses on debates central to feminist thought (including the utility of the category "gender") and challenges to building an inclusive feminist movement. Filled with personal narratives, playful visuals, and original humor, New Blood reveals middle-aged progressives communing in Red Tents, urban punks and artists "culture jamming" commercial menstrual products in their zines and sketch comedy, queer anarchists practicing DIY health care, African American health educators espousing "holistic womb health," and hopeful mothers refusing to pass on the shame to their pubescent daughters. With verve and conviction, Bobel illuminates today's feminism-on-the-ground-indisputably vibrant, contentious, and ever-dynamic.
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To assist groups inventorying air emissions of potentially toxic substances, EPA is preparing a series of documents that compiles available information on sources and emissions of toxic substances. The document deals specifically with methods to estimate chromium (Cr(+6)) emissions from cooling towers and electroplating operations.
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Phosphorus has a number of indispensable biochemical roles, but it does not have a rapid global cycle akin to the circulations of C or N. Natural mobilization of the element, a part of the grand geotectonic denudation-uplift cycle, is slow, and low solubility of phosphates and their rapid transformation to insoluble forms make the element commonly the growth-limiting nutrient, particularly in aquatic ecosystems. Human activities have intensified releases of P. By the year 2000 the global mobilization of the nutrient has roughly tripled compared to its natural flows: Increased soil erosion and runoff from fields, recycling of crop residues and manures, discharges of urban and industrial wastes, and above all, applications of inorganic fertilizers (15 million tonnes P/year) are the major causes of this increase. Global food production is now highly dependent on the continuing use of phosphates, which account for 50–60% of all P supply; although crops use the nutrient with relatively high efficiency, lost P that reaches water is commonly the main cause of eutrophication. This undesirable process affects fresh and ocean waters in many parts of the world. More efficient fertilization can lower nonpoint P losses. Although P in sewage can be effectively controlled, such measures are often not taken, and elevated P is common in treated wastewater whose N was lowered by denitrification. Long-term prospects of inorganic P supply and its environmental consequences remain a matter of concern.
Article
Policy-makers have cited menstruation and lack of sanitary products as barriers to girls' schooling. We evaluate these claims using a randomized evaluation of sanitary products provision to girls in Nepal. We report two findings. First, menstruation has a very small impact on school attendance. We estimate that girls miss a total of 0.4 days in a 180 day school year. Second, improved sanitary technology has no effect on reducing this (small) gap. Girls who randomly received sanitary products were no less likely to miss school during their period. We can reject (at the 1 percent level) the claim that better menstruation products close the attendance gap. (JEL I21, J13, J16, O12)
Article
The study presented is an example of the assessment of the relative sustainability of either option for disposal of domestic sanitary waste, either via the toilet or via the solid waste route. This required an evaluation of the total (social, economic, environmental, and technical) benefit/cost of implementing and adopting the alternative routes and an assessment of public responsiveness to encouragement to change sanitary waste disposal practices. It illustrates how, even for an apparently straightforward either/or question, the assessment of relative sustainability is complex and the amount of data needed to quantify sustainability indicators is prodigious. The study also provides an appraisal of the effectiveness of public campaigns to reduce waterborne disposal. Important information regarding public attitude and behavior in relation to wastewater systems has been acquired and lessons for ways of encouraging behavioral change to more sustainable ways of living have been gleaned.
A bloody business: how the feminine hygiene industry sells taboos
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A. Hait and S.E. Powers Resources, Conservation & Recycling 150 (2019) 104422