This project is a feasibility study which will produce a recommendation and report – it is not an implementation program. Check with your local Council to see if they offer a program currently. Following this study, Sustainability Victoria will open new grant funding rounds for implementation of programs, including programs recommended in feasibility studies.

The funding provided by Sustainability Victoria is to increase the use of reusable items in our economy. There are no certified compostable sanitary/incontinence productson the market in Australia. Compostable sanitary/incontinence products are not accepted by any Council composting contractors (green bin), and people can be confused about how to compost sanitary/incontinence products. Commercial composters do not want any sanitary/incontinence products in their organic facility and marketing sanitary/incontinence products as compostable is misleading as they still need to go to landfill. The scope of this study does not include compostable sanitary/incontinence products.

The funding provided by Sustainability Victoria is to increase the use of reusable items in our economy. The scope of this study does include assessment for sanitary/incontinence products washing needs for carers and care facilities. The scope of this study does not include sanitary/incontinence products washing collection and washing services for residents.

This study is focused on people who use sanitary/incontinence products as the target audience. The scope of this study does not include babies nappies/diapers for toilet training needs, which is a slightly different audience. It does include people who use nappies/diapers for incontinence issues above toilet training age.

660 million disposable sanitary/incontinence products are buried in Australian landfills every year. The average person who menstruates will have between 450-500 periods over their lifetime. Also, incontinence can affect any person, with 1 in 4 people aged 15 and over experiencing bladder/bowel issues. This results in a large amount of waste per person if relying on disposable items only. Councils recognise that as this group of residents contribute to a large amount of waste; we can play a role in supporting people who use sanitary/incontinence aids to use reusable products instead and therefore support a reduction in waste to landfill.

(What is incontinence? | The Facts | Continence Foundation of Australia)

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Reusable sanitary/incontinence products have changed a lot since the days of rags and cotton. Product innovation has seen changes to the design, look and ease of using modern reusable sanitary/incontinence products. Modern reusable sanitary/incontinence products can be absorbent, prevent leakage and are comfortable and gentle. This study will look at how to encourage people to use reusable sanitary/incontinence products and prioritise products which are easy and appealing for people to use.

We would love to hear from any person who has used reusable sanitary/incontinence products, and people that haven’t, to understand why. Each Council will be promoting the opportunity to provide feedback, which will take place in the next 6 months.

Sustainability Victoria has awarded up to $80,000 in funding to complete the study. Each participating Council will provide in-kind project management support (including organising procurement, communications, community consultation, etc.). Each participating Council has indicated they could commit up to $4,000 if the project requires additional financial input.

Some Councils in Melbourne do offer different types of support, including rebates and education about reusable products. This study will review existing programs to recommend a model which supports people who wouldn’t normally use reusable sanitary/incontinence products. The study will also measure and evaluate waste reduction. The study will recommend a model that can be adopted by Councils across Victoria, so that it is easy to promote, administer and access, and is effective at reducing waste to landfill and increasing the use of reusable sanitary/incontinence products.

The Recycling Victoria Policy is working towards standardising waste services across Victoria and this study could recommend a program model that could be adopted across the state. We know that as families grow, they often need to move house, and it would be good to be able to access similar programs across Victoria.

The study will evaluate and recommend ways to keep reusable sanitary/incontinence products in use until the end of their life.

The participating councils are Knox City Council, Whitehorse City Council, Hume City Council, Yarra Ranges Council, Maribyrnong City Council, Stonnington City Council and Maroondah City Council.

We would like to hear from residents of the participating Councils, as we have designed the study to reflect our diverse demographics. The participating Councils reflect inner city, and outer metropolitan areas, a diversity of socio-economic areas, a diversity in housing and household make up. The participating Councils will be working on delivering this study and are seeking input from residents in proportion to the resident population of each participating Council. Once the study is complete, other Councils are welcome to adopt the recommendations.

We still encourage people to complete the survey, even if they have used sanitary/incontinence products many years ago.

We are interested in connecting with organisations and businesses that have people who use sanitary or incontinence products as their customers, to ensure we get good participation in our research. Please contact Victoria Gerrard, Waste Education Officer, 03 9298 8542 to discuss this further.


A disposable/single use/reusable product that hygienically aids a person during their menstrual cycle

E.g. Disposable pad/liners and tampons (single use). Period underwear, menstrual cups, cloth bamboo pads/liners, cloth diapers/nappies (reusable).


“A disposable/single use/reusable product that hygienically aids a person with incontinence issues”

E.g. Disposable underwear pads, furniture pads, nappies/diapers (single use). Urinary sheaths, catheters, furniture pads, leak proof underwear, cloth diapers/nappies (reusable).