New study by Break Free From Plastic coalition investigates the true environmental costs of single-use period products

The Break Free From Plastic coalition has recently given out the publication “The environmental & economic costs of single-use menstrual products, baby nappies & wet wipes” where they are investigating the impact of these single-use items across Europe. This study breaks ground as the first ever to look at these interlinkages on a European level.

“Single-use menstrual products, baby nappies and wet wipes are examples of items that become waste after using them only once, and are mostly made of plastic. Due to their contribution in weight to the municipal solid waste stream and due to their environmental, economic and social impacts, these items require special attention.”

For example, statistics from the 28 EU Member states found that more than 49 billion units of period products were consumed in 2017. This will have amounted to  590,000 tonnes of waste as well as have added to global warming: “single-use baby nappies and menstrual products, throughout their lifecycle, emit approximately 3.3Mt of CO2 equivalents and 245,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year, respectively.”

The study also goes on to analyse the impact of reusable alternatives, showing that reusable alternatives are often economically viable for municipalities as it leads to less waste. They have also found that it can have a positive impact for consumers, as it will make less of a dent in their wallets, in the long run. However, they criticise the inconsistencies among the EU member states in the access to reusables.