28 Jun 2021

Written by

Larissa Copello

The European Parliament calls on health, social and environmental justice for menstruators by supporting safe, fair, and sustainable menstrual products for all

Consumption & Production

On 24 June 2021, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health. The adoption of this report shows that the European Parliament is fully committed to support and promote access to safe, fair, and circular menstrual products for all. Read the resolution here.

Among other things, Member States are called on to:

  • encourage the widespread availability of toxin-free and reusable menstrual products, in particular in large retailer outlets and pharmacies across the country (which should at least match the proportion of single-use items on sale), accompanied by awareness-raising measures on the benefits of reusable menstrual products compared to single-use ones
  • eliminate the so-called care and tampon tax by making use of the flexibility introduced in the VAT Directive and applying exemptions or 0 % VAT rates to these essential basic goods; 
  • ensure comprehensive and scientifically accurate education about menstruation;
  • ensure access to period education programmes for all children, so that menstruators can make informed choices about their periods and bodies; 
  • urgently tackle menstrual poverty by ensuring that free period products are available to anyone who needs them.

Social and environmental justice goes hand in hand and everyone deserves access to menstrual products that are considerate both to our wellbeing and that of the planet. The report shows strong signals that legislative intervention is needed to ensure the health of both menstruators and our planet. 

Nowadays, the vast majority of menstrual products being sold on the EU market (and globally) are single-use plastic and toxic items – including pads, liners and tampons – which can lead to serious environmental, economic, health, and social impacts from production to disposal and beyond. EU and Member States leaders have the power to change the consumption and production of menstrual items for the better.

The Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) network and the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) movement have been campaigning on the cause. Through the Bloody Manifesto (open for signatures here), we call the EU to take action on behalf of half of its population and give menstruators across Europe the right to an informed choice and access to safe, fair, and circular menstrual products.

We stand with the European Parliament and call on the European Commission and EU member states to put an end to menstrual inequalities in Europe, and to tackle plastic and harmful chemicals in period products. The menstrual taboo must be a thing of the past and we must increase access to plastic-free, toxic-free and reusable menstrual products for all – period!