Turn and Flow is developing the technology to recycle organic pads and tampons. Our system will make used menstrual care products into a source of energy and natural fertiliser.
Around 50% of the population menstruates every month for an average of 40 years yet there are huge social stigmas hindering the ‘menstrual’ industries progression. A single menstruator in the UK will use between 5,000 and 15,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime. The majority of these will end up as plastic waste, and persist for at least 500 years.
Reusable alternatives present a sustainable solution, however, some people find them intimidating and difficult to fit into modern life. The high initial cost means they are exclusive to those of high economic status, the cleaning process requires clean running water and they do not eradicate the use of disposable products completely. There is a clear need for both reusable and disposable.
Many menstruators use pads or tampons and so converting to the organic versions of these products only requires a change in perspective and purchasing habit, not use. Organic pads and tampons are better for the environment and significantly better for the body.
We will use Anaerobic Digestion to recycle used organic menstrual care products. This is the process of waste being stored in a container with no oxygen where it breaks down into biogas, which can be used as a source of clean energy and a nutrient-rich fertisliser.
The laboratory trial will be supervised by Dr Yadira Bajón Fernández and Dr Heather at Cranfield University in order to test out the core technology.
The trial aims to:
- Prove that the core technology will work and quantify the energy potential of the waste (how much energy will be produced) and test the quality of the fertiliser.
- Explore User receptivity amongst potential service users towards the use of organic menstrual products and ensure a user-centred system is designed.
- Understand the receptivity of the large scale AD sector to accept organic menstrual care products and illuminate regulatory challenges.
Our project lead Kimberley (right) began to Turn and Flow to bring an update to menstrual care systems and the attitudes surrounding them. As other areas of society have moved on, menstruation and how we deal with it is still stuck in the 1950s. Kimberley later teamed up with Ciara (left) who she met during her time at Brunel University London. They share the unshakeable belief that it is time society started having open and honest conversations about menstruation and the way we deal with blood.
The trial will run for 6 months, below is an overview of where your money will be going. In light of Covid-19, the start date has been postponed, a new date will be decided as soon as the labs reopen.
Once we have the results from the laboratory trial, we want to create a service available to the public. To balance the inequalities in our recycling systems we propose:
- A Turn certification process to show the products can be recycled and are truly organic (displayed on the organic brands you know and love)
- A subscription so that spaces (cafes, studios, workspaces etc.) can install a Turn bin in their toilet cubicles and recycle the menstrual waste
- A convenient collection method to transport the waste from the space to the recycling plant
- A platform to clearly see data on the environmental contributions of Turn
To learn more about what we do, visit our brand new website: