Reusable Sanitary and Incontinence Products Feasibility Study
A joint study involving Maribyrnong City Council, City of Stonnington, Whitehorse City Council, Hume City Council, Maroondah City Council, Knox City Council and Yarra Ranges Shire Council was conducted earlier this year to better understand attitudes toward reusable menstrual and continence products. The aim was to ultimately reduce the volume of single-use products going into landfill.
Findings from the study helped us to better understand our community’s thoughts on reusable menstrual and continence products and consider ways to help increase usage of these products in Maribyrnong.
The community was engaged via surveys, workshops and telephone interviews (with current and past product users of reusable products or potential users and also service providers).
The surveys received a total of 1,363 respondents, 15 respondents attended workshops and seven people participated in the telephone survey.
More than two thirds of the survey respondents currently used reusable products, mainly period and leak-proof underwear. There were notably few respondents from the City of Maribyrnong, CALD community members and service providers.
The key reasons given for choosing reusable products were:
- Perception the products were environmentally-friendly
- Social responsibility to address climate change
- Cost effective in the long term
- Products worked well
- More comfortable
Disadvantages highlighted were that the products were ineffective, unhygienic and uncomfortable.
Other barriers identified were:
- Initial high cost of purchase
- Lack of information about reusable products
- Challenges for changing, washing and storage when in public
Recommendations from the study
There was positive support from respondents to Council involvement to help facilitate the increased use of reusable products over of single use products.
Councils were encouraged to combine efforts to provide more information about the range of products available and their benefits, and advocate for the reduction of single use products going to landfill.
It was recommended to target young people starting menstruation and people experiencing mild or intermittent incontinence.
Finding ways to better reach members of our CALD community, people living with disability and gender diverse people with information about these options was also recommended.
This research was supported by Sustainability Victoria, funded by the Victorian Government’s Recycling Victoria Councils Fund.