Sanitary Bins FAQ: Everything You Need to Know

The phrase ‘everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask’ could easily apply to sanitary bins. Many decision makers are uncertain about the requirements surrounding sanitary bin provision and maintenance, while others may not have thought to investigate.

Whether you’re a business seeking the legal requirements around sanitary bins, or are generally unsure of the disposal protocol, the FAQs below should clear up any queries you might have.

How much do you need to pay for sanitary bins?

This is perhaps the hardest question to answer, and can depend on a number of considerations and circumstances. However, the general rule is that if you’re paying more than £90 per sanitary bin per year with a basic monthly disposal included, you could be paying too much.

Different circumstances can determine if the fee is higher or lower, including the location, frequency of servicing, how many bins are needed and extra administration costs. Head over to our sanitary bin disposal blog for more information on costs.

How do I dispose of a pad/tampon when there is no appropriate bin?

Most work establishments or public spaces will have correct disposal facilities in place. If this isn’t the case, you should inform management or the council respectively. A generic rubbish bin is not ideal, but is usually adequate for this kind of sanitary waste.

If you’re stuck in a situation where there’s no available bin, however, don’t flush it – this causes drains to become clogged and damaged, pollutes the environment, and imposes extra costs on the business. The logical (if unpleasant) step would be to carry the waste around until you find more appropriate disposal facilities.

This awkward situation can be avoided with the correct hygiene disposal units. Businesses which implement sanitary bins will be helping the environment and saving money on plumbing – but most importantly, they’ll be saving staff and customers the embarrassment of having to complain, and seek other disposal options outside of the restroom.

What is the proper way to dispose of pads in your own home?

Disposing of sanitary pads in the home is a fairly simple process. All sanitary pads come with a wrapping that enables you to wrap up the pad, and throw it away without any leakage.

To ensure it’s fully secure, you should ideally wrap some toilet paper around it, and simply throw it in a discrete bin. You should empty domestic bins with sanitary waste every two days to prevent any unpleasant odour in the home.

How should I dispose of my tampons at home?

Tampons can be disposed of in a very similar way to sanitary pads. Unlike pads, tampons don’t come with a proper wrapping method, and will need to be wrapped in toilet paper before throwing away. This will prevent any leakage, and is a discrete method of disposal.

Is it safe to burn sanitary towels?

You may never have considered burning sanitary towels, but it is a surprisingly common question! Burning sanitary towels is not a safe or recommended method of disposal, as they can release toxins into the air such as dioxins and furans, which can lead to ill health. You should always stick to the safe option of disposing of sanitary towels in the appropriate bins.

What are the legal requirements for sanitary bins?  

Sanitary waste is an umbrella term for liquid or solid waste originating solely from humans and human activities. This includes feminine hygiene products, which are used to absorb menstrual flow.

There are a few legal requirements to consider when implementing sanitary bins in the workplace. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that every business must provide suitable sanitary disposal units in each ladies washroom.

The Water Industries Act 1991 also states any item that can cause blockage shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, which is often the case when no sanitary bins are provided.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, businesses have the duty of care to correctly and safely manage waste on their premises up to the point of final disposal. You’re also held responsible for reviewing contracts with sanitary bin providers. For more information about legal requirements, check out our guide to sanitary bins legal requirements.

Can I catch a disease from sanitary waste in the ladies toilets?

While contracting an illness from sanitary waste is uncommon, maltreatment of sanitary waste is a risk factor in exposing people to bloodborne pathogens. As such, it’s vital to minimise any chance (however small that may be) of infection by dealing with human waste products appropriately, both in the collection and disposal phase.

This is why it’s vital not just that sanitary bins are emptied regularly, but that facilities are kept clean and secure for everyone using them. Washrooms should be cleaned daily using a good sanitiser designed to kill bacteria, and bins should be designed with a ‘no touch’ lid.

This generally involves using a foot pedal to open up the bin, allowing it to be used safely with no risk of cross contamination. The service standard for sanitary bins is usually monthly, and shouldn’t be any longer than six weeks, as most sanitisers are only effective up to eight weeks.


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