Study into reusable sanitary and incontinence products

Published on 15 November 2022

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Yarra Ranges Council will be part of a study conducted by seven councils to research and understand how to implement a reusable sanitary and incontinence program to reduce waste to landfill.

After food waste, disposable nappies and sanitary and incontinence products going to landfill is becoming one of the most significant waste issues, comprising between 5-15 per cent of waste in household bins. 

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Cr Jim Child, said that finding a solution to this issue was one of Council’s highest priorities when it came to waste management.

“We’ve recently just gone through quite an extensive community consultation period for our Draft Waste Plan, which incorporates the change to a four-stream waste service,” Cr Child said.

“As part of this, we had many questions from the community around how they were able to dispose of their sanitary items if we were to move to a fortnightly rubbish bin collection.

“We think that by partnering with Councils going through a similar transition with their waste services, we’ll be able to come to a positive outcome that will benefit all Councils and their residents, while also minimising waste.”

Approximately 660 million disposable sanitary and incontinence products end up in landfill per year in Australia and it can take up to 800 years for the plastic products to break down.
The feasibility study will engage with people who use sanitary products and incontinence aids to understand current barriers to using reusable products and will benchmark existing programs from other councils to reach target audiences, meet user needs, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs to reduce waste and change behaviour.

The collaborative project between councils hopes to understand and break down barriers to using reusable products in different age and health demographics, and allows for the sharing of costs and resources, increasing the likelihood of an ongoing reusable program.
It will recommend a best practice model to achieve waste reduction and assist and support people who use sanitary products or incontinence aids, to increase the circular economy and to create the basis for behaviour change across Victoria.

The study has been awarded $80,000 from Sustainability Victoria, through the Victorian Government’s Recycling Victoria Councils Fund. The other participating municipalities are Whitehorse City Council, Hume City Council, Maribyrnong City Council, Maroondah City Council, Stonnington City Council and Yarra Ranges Council.


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