Are Sanitary Pads Recyclable? (And Are They Biodegradable?)

As a woman, growing up was always fun and innocent until you noticed some changes in your body. Science says these changes result from puberty setting in, but it’s your body; you understand more about how distinctly you feel than what science can explain. The thing is, these changes are not yet in a hurry to leave; they keep coming and will be this way for a long time.

One of the changes that this puberty brings along is your monthly menstrual cycle. While the issue of the menstrual cycle is important and can’t lose its relevance, the focus will not be on it today. Rather, we will be considering the sanitary pads used to manage the monthly flow of the blood.

Sanitary pads are, by far, one of the greatest inventions. The purpose it serves is not what one can fully recount, and this has contributed to its use globally. Every woman who has attained puberty age would need sanitary pads to contain her monthly flow, which could last for about five days. This shows that as many efforts are concerted to keep producing to meet the demand, there needs to be coherent attention paid to the aftermath of these sanitary pads.

This pertinent question is what this post considers. In this light, we examine whether you can recycle your sanitary pads, whether it is biodegradable or considered dry waste? We will also consider whether you can burn or throw used sanitary pads in the trash bin. Lastly, we consider how to dispose of your sanitary pads.

As you can see, this post is for you, no matter the gender you align with. So, get in here, grab a seat and follow through. A lot is waiting in stock for you.

Can You Recycle Sanitary Pads?

Sanitary pads are in very frequent use these days that if we all don’t find a sustainable means of disposing of them, we might end up having our landfills filled with those used pads. This is why the option of recycling seems to pop up almost every time. But then, what’s the position? Can you truly recycle sanitary pads? Let’s find out.

The answer to this is No. You got that right; sanitary pads can not be recycled. We know you are yearning for more explanations than just a NO answer; well, we are prepared for that too.

You cannot recycle sanitary pads based on two reasons; sanitary and material. As clear as possible, we will explain these two reasons.

Sanitary Reason

One of the reasons you can’t recycle sanitary pads is because of the sanitary consideration. You will understand this better if you consider what sanitary pads are being used for. You should already know, but in case you don’t, sanitary pads are being used to manage and contain the flow of blood from the vagina.

What this signifies is that all used sanitary pads have come in contact with blood and tissues. And, like every other thing that has come in contact with blood, tissue, or body fluid, they are not recycled. Even if they are recyclable, they will not be recycled because of the risk of the transfer of infections due to the recyclable material’s contact with body fluid, tissue, and blood.

This is why sanitary pads don’t come close to recycling stations. Even if they do, they are promptly discarded and the other materials they have come in contact with. Hence, because of public health issues, sanitary pads cannot be recycled.

Materials Reason

This is the reason always being advanced for many of the things that can’t be recycled. In this light, whether the materials used in making the product in question are capable of being recycled or not is the focus. If they are, then they go into the recycling bin, except contaminated. If not, they go into the trash.

Now, the question is whether materials used in making sanitary pads are recyclable? Well, the answer is No. sanitary pads are not made with materials considered as recyclable. Many of them have been coated with thin plastic materials to make them effective. They are made for a single-use purpose.

This nature of their material is another compelling reason you cannot recycle sanitary pads. It is not prudent to put non-recyclables into the recycling bin. If you put sanitary pads in your recycling bin, you would end up contaminating the whole recyclables and render them non-recyclable.

So, that’s it. Sanitary pads cannot be recycled because of sanitary or health concerns and because of the materials they are made with. This means that you are left with disposing of them. But then, when you do this, what happens? Are the sanitary pads biodegradable? You might begin to guess from now till tomorrow, but we will save you the stress. In the next segment, we will consider this pertinent question and provide the answer to it.

Are Sanitary Pads Biodegradable?

Most times, after using your sanitary pads, what you do is dispose of them and they end up in the landfill. Whether while in the landfill they biodegrade or not is not clear to many people, and this is why we are considering this state of thing. In essence, we are asking, are sanitary pads biodegradable? Let’s find out together.

For sanitary pads, generally speaking, are biodegradable, but they take an extremely long time. Averagely, sanitary pads will require about 800 years before they biodegrade. On all fours, this is an extremely long time for something to take. It means that the first sanitary pads you ever used will still be lurking in the landfill after you have long died.

Without a doubt, this poses a great challenge for the environment, as different things could happen to the sanitary pads before they completely biodegrade. For instance, they can be washed to the sea by flood. Here, they will contaminate the waters and the organisms therein. Even when they remain on the landfill, they are still harmful to the environment.

So, you see, as good as sanitary pads are, they can cause problems for the environment. But, we can make efforts to dispose of them properly. We will get to this, but let’s consider whether sanitary pads are dry waste.

Are Sanitary Pads Dry Waste?

Let’s cut the chase here and get to the answer quick. Sanitary pads are not dry waste. Dry wastes are items like glass, wood, plastic metals, and the sort. On the other hand, sanitary pads are considered sanitary waste or solid waste.

This classification means that you have to properly dispose of them to prevent creating health issues for others or the environment. It is also classified as household waste. This still does not signify that you can toil with it however you please. On all fours, sanitary pads are meant to be treated properly after they have been used.

When next you get asked about sanitary pads classification, you can boldly say that they are not dry waste and further give its classification.

Can You Throw Away Sanitary Pads In The Trash Bin?

Of course, this is a valid question. It seems like one of the few options left for disposing of used sanitary pads. But then, is this possible? Can you throw away sanitary pads in the trash bin?

Yes, you can. You cannot recycle sanitary pads, and there is no special collection program for sanitary pads, so you can throw them in the trash bin.

Though we say you can throw them in the trash bin, this does not mean you have to be careless about it. Remember that it has a lot to do with hygiene, and you have a responsibility to ensure that you dispose of it properly. In the section after the next one, we will talk about how to dispose of your used sanitary pads properly. In the meantime, let’s consider if you can burn your sanitary pads.

Can You Burn Used Sanitary Pads?

Burning things has always been a way of disposing of things. When you burn things, you are destroying them or rendering them useless. And since there is an obligation to dispose of your sanitary pads, you are right to be considering whether you can burn used sanitary pads.

The answer is in the affirmative. You can burn sanitary pads, but many conditions are attached to it, especially as it concerns the environment. First, by burning things openly, you are contributing- however little- to global warming, which is a big concern for the environment.

Also, your sanitary pads could have been layered with absorbent gels, which do not respond well to heated temperature. Since you can’t separate these gels before burning, you have to burn the whole sanitary pads. When you do this, the gel can cause the release of some toxic gases into the environment, which also contributes to the many challenges of our environment.

Aside from this, burning things would affect the soil, as it can cause the soil to lose its nutrients and further stunt plants’ growth.  So, you see, there seems to be more to life from deciding to burn your sanitary pads than it is to gain. For us, we would advise that you should stay away from burning your sanitary pads.

How Do You Dispose Of Sanitary Pads?

Used sanitary pads are critical things we need to handle with care. Handling them with care means disposing of them immediately after use. And since disposing of them would require that you do it properly, it is important that you know how to go about this.  So, let’s consider this; how do you properly dispose of your used sanitary pads?

Once you have used your sanitary pads, ensure you get a plastic or paper bag and put them inside. You can tie, tape, or seal the plastic bag to prevent the used sanitary pads from falling off during the process of disposing of them or transport them to the landfill. After this, you will place the sealed plastic or paper bag in the trash can outside, where it would be taken to the landfill. The purpose of doing this is to ensure no health risk is posed by just carelessly disposing of your sanitary pads.

If you do this, you can be sure that you are disposing of your sanitary pads properly and helping the environment.


Sanitary pads are important, especially as humans can’t control their monthly flow, and they need sanitary pads to manage the flow. The problem, however, is that these sanitary pads are not recyclable nor biodegradable. For health reasons, we cannot advise that people cut down on their use of sanitary pads to cut down waste. Sadly, like you, we are also torn between things to do. Until we find sustainable answers, we advise you to use your sanitary pads responsibly and dispose of them properly.


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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.