Menstrual waste

  • The use of disposable menstrual materials continues to increase, contributing vast amounts to both formal and informal waste management systems, as well as polluting the environment.
  • Menstrual materials are often flushed down or deposited into toilets, causing issues with wastewater and faecal sludge management
  • Campaigns often assume that undesired (by planners) menstrual material disposal behaviours are due to a lack of knowledge of their consequences
  • Even where technically and environmentally appropriate menstrual disposal and washing methods are available, they are often not used.

Designers and builders of facilities for menstrual disposal and washing must consider the preferences of users within the local context. This includes the social appropriateness of facilities, local stigmas around menstruation, particularly who can and cannot know a person’s menstrual status, and the knowledge level of users regarding menstrual disposal and washing practices.

Practical briefs

2022 Menstrual disposal and washing facilities: considering user preferences in design (this 2 page pdf is helpful for sharing with those who design and build toilets and other menstrual health facilities!)

Journal articles

2021 Drivers of menstrual material disposal and washing practices: A systematic review. PLOS One


2022 Understanding the menstruator (video link and embedded below), Menstrual Waste Disposal Webinar Series, UNHCR/UNFPA/Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

Hear Dani speak from 14-24 mins

2021 Drivers of Menstrual Material Disposal and Washing Practices: Why we cannot ignore individual’s behaviour when making engineering decisions (conference paper). 42nd WEDC International Conference, Loughborough, UK