Menstrual Products, Nappies & Wet Wipes

The waste generation of single-use menstrual products, baby nappies and wet wipes accounts for approximately 7,832,000 tonnes (equivalent to 15.3kg per inhabitant per year) of waste within the EU-28.


At Zero Waste Europe we are working collaboratively at the European, National, and Local level to push legislation, provide support and amplify emerging solutions to single-use menstrual products, nappies and wet wipes. Similarly, we are working to expose the impacts of these single-use products in contrast to the the benefits of reusable solutions.


To address these challenges, alongside our member ReZero we completed two large studies on menstrual items, baby nappies and wet wipes looking first at the economic and environmental impacts of these items, then the legal and policy opportunities for change, followed by a policy paper providing direct recommendations to the EU and Member States. We also worked with Reloop to provide comment on material substitution under the Single Use Plastics Directive.


By implementing the recommendations outlined in these reports, the future scenario for menstrual products, baby nappies and wet wipes in the EU-28 would look very different. With the target of 60% prevention and reuse, waste generation would be reduced by 4,699,200 tonnes in 2040. Of the remaining 3,132,800 tonnes, 90% should be separately collected for recycling, and only 10% would need to be treated as residual waste. This means reducing residual waste in this sector from 7,832,00 tonnes to 313,280 by 2040, that is an overall reduction of residual waste of 96% in 20 years.


Watch out for more work in 2020: in particular note, Environmenstrual Week which takes place from 19th – 25th of October 2020.