Feminine Hygiene Services by Initial

Feminine hygiene is not always the most comfortable topic to talk about, but it’s an important one.  Given that 50% of the world’s population menstruates, you’d think that we would talk about this as openly as we talk about the weather, but instead menstruation remains a taboo subject in many parts of the world - to the detriment of society. 

When you get down to brass tacks, women need a discreet and hygienic way to dispose of their feminine hygiene waste.  And with a global drive towards environmental sustainability, we should add “responsible” to discreet and hygienic disposal of sanitary waste.

Feminine hygiene terminology

  • Feminine hygiene: a term used to indirectly refer to the use of sanitary protection such as pads, tampons, panty liners or similar products. (Lexico)
  • Sanitary waste: refers to “offensive waste or hygiene waste” (the name originating from the idea that this waste is offensive in appearance and smell) which would include the waste generated by used feminine hygiene products
  • Feminine hygiene units (FHUs): the industry terminology for sanitary waste bins that are positioned next to the toilet in the cubicle of a female bathroom. These waste bins are also referred to as sanitary bins (sanibins), she-bins or just bins.

Feminine hygiene is more than just a ‘woman issue’

We may not realise it, but feminine hygiene affects both men and women. Whilst many parts of the world hold taboos around speaking of this ‘woman issue’, it’s of the utmost importance that everyone is educated about menstrual hygiene in order to create a culture of understanding and empathy around the topic.

Why is menstrual hygiene not just a women’s issue?

Men have girl-children too

If you’re the father of a daughter, you’ll hold her health in high regard and supporting her menstrual cycle will become a part of your life.  You may contribute to her menstrual hygiene by buying her sanitary pads, by being part of ‘the talk’ that educates her about what’s happening to her body and what it all means, or you might need to educate her about hygiene and how to keep herself healthy during menstruation.

If you have only boy-children, this talk also needs to be part of their upbringing so that they can support their female friends and colleagues by being respectful, especially if there is a mishap at school or work.

The incorrect disposal of sanitary waste puts ALL OF US at risk

Everyone needs to understand that the correct disposal of sanitary waste is essential to our health and well being.  The bottom line is that sanitary waste is a blood product that could contain bloodborne pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis B.  Whether at home or at work, it’s very important that you minimise the points of contact with sanitary waste and dispose of these items responsibly.

As a boss, the wellness of your employees is your responsibility - no matter what gender you are

As a responsible employer, one of your priorities is to keep your employees safe and healthy.  Reducing the risks associated with the handling of, and exposure to, sanitary waste can reduce the risk of illness and absenteeism in your business. It’s important to evaluate what you need to do to safeguard the wellbeing of both your female employees and any male cleaners that may be exposed to the sanitary waste.

Does your business comply to sanitary waste disposal regulations?

What are the implications of not implementing safe sanitary waste disposal methods? Why you should make sure your bathroom and other waste disposal spaces are up to scratch.
Click here to read our blog and find out more >>>

Read the blog

As a boss, the wellness of your employees is your responsibility - no matter what gender you are

Contact Initial today

Objections to contracting a sanitary waste disposal partner: 

Speaking to small business owners about feminine hygiene units, a common reply to the question ‘do you have sanitary waste bins?’ is ‘I only have a few ladies working here, why do I need them?’.

Initial’s blog titled THAT AWKWARD QUESTION: How to tell your male boss you need new feminine hygiene units addresses this and other objections.

See some of the common objections below and our responses to them.

Common objections:


Surely ladies just flush them away? 


You’re unlikely to be alone in thinking that, but tampons are a major cause of plumbing hassles, as they cause blockages which usually require the services of a plumber to resolve. A large number of tampons in particular also find their way into the ocean and onto our beaches. It’s both an expensive plumbing problem and a pollution concern that we could prevent very simply by investing in a professional sanitary waste disposal service.


We don’t have very many female staff; is it really an issue? 


You may not have many female staff, but if there is no adequate disposal solutions the only options female colleagues have are to flush their tampons or wrap their sanitary towels up and dispose of them in the paper disposer bin (putting cleaning colleagues at risk) or take them home to dispose of there. I’m sure you wouldn't want your wife or girlfriend to have to bring home her soiled sanitary pads in her handbag, would you?


We have especially wide plumbing pipes. 


That may be true, but that’s not the problem. It’s when sanitary waste leaves our premises and goes into smaller pipes that the difficulty occurs, and we are responsible for any blockage there too.  

Are you aware that pads/tampons are classed as a ‘prohibited discharge’ into any sewer pipes?


Why do we need a hygiene company to empty the bins?
Can’t we just buy bins and have the cleaners empty them when they do their rounds? 


No! That puts the cleaners - who have to empty and clean these waste bins - at risk of cross contamination and infection. Added to which, where are the cleaners going to dispose of these dressings? It’s illegal to dump them into the general waste.

Sanitary waste disposal compliance - unpacking legislation:

Our knowledge leadership blog titled “What does legislation say about Sanitary waste disposal” addresses this topic beautifully.  

What are the implications of non-compliance?

  1. If your workplace doesn’t provide sanitary bins for female employees, the only option left is: 
    1. to flush their tampons down the toilet
    2. to wrap their sanitary towels in toilet paper and dispose of them in the waste paper bin
  2. Whilst there is no legal limitation on flushing that volume of tampons down the toilet, common sense tells us that this is definitely a sub-optimal solution because: 
    1. Tampons are a major cause of plumbing hassles, as they cause blockages which usually require the services of a plumber to resolve. 
    2. They land up on beaches, creating a horrible pollution problem.
  3. If female colleagues are disposing of sanitary waste into the waste bins, this means that your daily cleaners - who have to empty and clean these bins - are at risk of cross-contamination and infection. Diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B can be prevalent in the sanitary waste receptacles.
  4. It means that your business is in violation of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (as mentioned above) due to the fact that the cleaners have no option but to dispose of these dressings by dumping them into the general waste, which is prohibited.

If your business does provide sanitary bins for employees, we recommend asking your service provider how they dispose of sanitary waste, and whether they are a certified waste carrier. They should be able to provide you with a certificate of disposal to put your mind at ease that waste is being disposed of according to the regulations mentioned above.

Want to find out more about the legislation? Read this blog or download our legislation document.

Download sanitary waste legislation document

Is there a difference between the way that sanitary waste is disposed of and the way medical waste is disposed of?

The short answer is ‘no’, both these types of waste are disposed of into specific units (although the units are different). 

Medical waste (or the correct term, “healthcare risk waste”) is an umbrella term used in much of our legislation, and which is defined as any waste which is produced in the diagnosis, treatment or immunisation of human beings or animals, or waste that has has been in contact with blood, bodily fluids or tissues from humans or infected animals from veterinary practices. 

Like sanitary waste, when we consider methods of disposal, the distinction has to be drawn between the volumes of healthcare risk waste produced by a private household and those produced by a commercial enterprise. Depending on the type of waste, you may require waste tracking documentation. Read more about medical waste disposal.  

Need assistance in ensuring that you’re disposing of waste safely? Download our Waste Disposal Posters or our FHU posters and help your organisation to maintain a healthy environment for everyone.

Download Waste Disposal PostersDownload FHU Posters

Download the Ultimate Guide to Safe Sanitary Waste Disposal in South Africa, a guide from the Hygiene experts at Initial Hygiene

Why Initial is a preferred partner for sanitary waste disposal

Trust the Experts
Initial offers a discreet and hygienic sanitary waste disposal service that is conducted by trained professionals who are equipped with the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  This means that you don’t need to expose your cleaning staff to the risk of contracting bloodborne pathogens such as Hepatitis B or HIV when emptying bins that contain sanitary waste.

Our unique PLUS (Protective Layered Unique Service) by Initial service model is an advanced feminine hygiene service that raises the standard of hygiene by:

  • Reducing the presence of E coli
  • Reducing bacteria levels in the cubicle
  • Reducing the risk of cross contamination
  • Reducing damages, scrapes and scratches on your feminine hygiene unit

ZA - Initial - Image - LP - Feminie Hygiene - 5 Layers

PLUS by Initial has been endorsed by Dr Baldwin for the management of feminine hygiene waste

Award winning products
Initial’s Signature range has a sleek, contemporary design that is easy to use.  Available in both manual and no touch options, the units contain silver ion technology that makes surfaces resistant to bacterial contamination. This provides an  additional layer of hygienic protection for users on key touchable surfaces.  That means that female users don't have to worry about the risk of cross-contamination when touching the feminine hygiene unit. The antibacterial properties of silver ions have been evaluated to meet global standards for antibacterial plastics (ISO22196 and AATCC147 or JIS Z 2801).

This range has won a prestigious Red Dot Design Award with its benchmark setting hygiene product excellence through design innovation.

“A minimalist use of form and the highest degree of functionality
with regard to user-friendliness and ease of use characterise the
Signature range of hygiene products.” 

Statement by the jury, Red Dot Design Awards 2014

HubSpot Video

Responsible provider
Initial is a registered Waste Carrier and will provide you with a Certificate of disposal for your feminine hygiene waste - that means you’ll know that it's been disposed of at the correct landfill and in the manner that has the least environmental impact. 

As part of a global company, Initial South Africa has also adopted best practice from around the world, allowing us to implement the latest innovation and thinking. 
For example, when we moved from a full exchange service to PLUS by Initial (our current on site service model), we were able to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing water usage - as we were able to reduce the size of our wash bays - our fuel costs - we could procure more fuel-efficient vehicles due to the reduction in space requirement within the vehicle holding area. Contact us to book your free survey

Book a free hygiene survey from Initial Hygiene - experts in hygiene

Period poverty and how you can make a difference

Initial is passionate about our industry and proud of the initiatives we are able to partake in, like our Hygiene Angels: Keeping girls in school initiative from 2018.  

Did you know that approximately one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle? (UNESCO report).  Looking at the South African population, that could equate to around 900 000 girls missing up to 20% of a given school year. This - without doubt - causes them to miss out on economic opportunities in later life.  

According to Wash United, one additional year in school can increase a woman’s lifetime earnings by 10 - 20%. When girls complete secondary school they marry later and have fewer children, and enjoy better maternal health.  Promoting good menstrual hygiene management through events like Menstrual Hygiene Day is therefore critical to keeping girls in school, and thus enabling them to reach their full economic and social potential. 

We would like to encourage you to get involved in community projects that uplift girls and women experiencing period poverty.  Download resources that can help educate your community.

Contact us to find out more

Looking for more information on feminine hygiene, or looking for help providing feminine hygiene services for your business?

Fill in your details on the form and a member of our team will be in touch with you to discuss your needs.

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