Sanitary Bins: The Legal Requirements & Your Responsibilities
Sanitary waste, and period products, in general, can be somewhat of a taboo topic. But, when it comes to sanitary waste disposal, there are laws and legislations in place that must be adhered to by all public and business washroom facilities. Women and other menstruating individuals must have access to proper sanitary waste bins to help them safely and discreetly dispose of their used sanitary products.
We’re going to dive into the dos and don’ts around sanitary waste disposal, what you must include in your washroom to ensure you adhere to sanitary waste legislation, and how to choose the right sanitary bin for your washroom.
What is Sanitary Waste?
If you’re unsure what exactly counts as sanitary waste, then don’t worry! You’re not alone with this one. Knowing where your waste is supposed to go can be a bit of a grey area, so let’s clear some things up. Sanitary waste is officially classed as offensive waste, which includes “hygiene waste and sanitary protection like nappies and incontinence pads” (GOV.UK).
These waste products must be disposed of correctly in a sanitary waste disposal bin. They must not be flushed down the toilet as this can lead to blockages in pipework and pollution of the waterways. They must also not be disposed of in a general waste bin. This is fine in a private household; however, it poses a potential health risk to anyone handling that waste. All sanitary waste bins must be emptied regularly by a professional waste disposal service.
Where Does Sanitary Waste Go After the Bin?
Once sanitary waste is disposed of by the individual in the proper manner, the sanitary bins must then be emptied. Sanitary waste cannot be recycled despite it being predominantly made up of plastic. Once a sanitary product is used, it is exposed to bacteria which can be harmful to health.
It’s for this reason that sanitary products must be disposed of in landfill or via incineration. Although this is not ideal for the planet, the health risks of alternative disposal methods are too dangerous. There is now a range of sustainable period products on the market, including absorbent underwear, menstrual cups, and plastic-free pads and tampons.
Sanitary Bin Law & Legislation
It is compulsory as a UK business to have adequate sanitary bins in all women’s or gender neutral bathrooms in your building. This rule is the same for public bathrooms as well. No matter how small your premises are or whether or not there are any women or menstruating people regularly using the building, you must always provide the proper means of sanitary disposal. You must ensure your washrooms comply with legislation or risk having legal action taken against your business/ establishment if you are seen not to have any sanitary waste facilities available. Used sanitary products must not be flushed down the toilet or placed in a general waste bin, as this can pose a serious health risk.
Providing women with sanitary bins is essential for your building to be compliant with the following:
- The Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
- The Environmental Protection Act 1990
- The Water Industries Act 1991
Emptying Your Sanitary Bins
Sanitary waste bins must be emptied regularly to avoid overfilling and festering waste. The volume of sanitary waste that accumulates will determine how frequently your bins should be emptied. The more women there are using your washrooms, the more likely that the sanitary bins will get fuller faster. Ensuring safe and frequent waste disposal is essential for keeping a hygienic washroom.
Who Should Empty Sanitary Bins?
You don’t have to worry about disposing of sanitary waste bin contents yourself. Your sanitary bin provider must provide a monthly service to collect all offensive waste and clean out your sanitary bins. Those emptying the bins have the training and proper protective equipment to safely handle this type of waste.
Why is Handling Sanitary Waste Dangerous?
Handling offensive waste comes with potential health risks. Waste disposal employees face the difficult task of avoiding getting ill themselves and potentially spreading harmful bacteria to others. Depending on the type of waste, it will need a certain level of training and expertise to handle it safely, and sanitary waste is no different. Highly infectious bloodborne diseases can be present in sanitary waste, which becomes a big risk when not handled correctly. If mismanaged, offensive waste can also cause other illnesses, such as:
- Skin/eye infections (eg conjunctivitis);
- Gastroenteritis (symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting)
Managing Sanitary Health in the Workplace
There are many reasons why ensuring you provide proper sanitary bins is important to the workplace. Women require these bins to safely dispose of their sanitary waste, and not providing adequate facilities risks their health and their ability to work at their best. Not only is it a legal requirement to provide sanitary bins in any female or gender neutral washrooms in your building, but it also helps to promote gender equality and prevents damage and contamination to your water systems. The Welfare at Work guidance states that all workplaces must provide female employees with a means of disposing of sanitary dressings.
Choosing the Right Sanitary Bin for Your Washroom
When it comes to choosing the right sanitary bin for your washroom, Woosh can help. Our sanitary bins are designed by women after receiving feedback from hundreds of users. You don’t have to worry about sanitary bins looking clunky and out of place, instead, we provide bespoke sleek, and stylish sanitary bins that effectively manage offensive waste. Get in touch with one of our Wooshologists to get your bespoke sanitary bins today.
- What Happens to Sanitary Waste?
- Why Is Talking About Periods Taboo?
- 12 Things You Should Never Flush - But Why?
- Commercial Washroom Maintenance: A Guide
- How to Make Your Washroom As Inclusive As Possible