Derry & Strabane Council to report on reusable menstrual products scheme

A report will be brought forward to elected representatives detailing how Derry City and Strabane Council might introduce a reusable menstrual products scheme following a motion brought forward by People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O’Neill.

By Gillian Anderson
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 11:26 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 11:26 am

Addressing the chamber, councillor O’Neill said: “Reusable menstrual products can have significant positive effects in helping to alleviate period poverty, reduce risks to health and are also better for the environment.

“In a person’s lifetime the volume of waste from sanitary products is enough to fill two minibuses and it’s also estimated that 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet in the UK every single day instead of being binned which is shocking.

“The most important fact right now is that periods are expensive. On average  a person who menstruates uses around 12,000 disposable products  in their lifetime and that cost, according to Zero Waste Europe, ranges from €1500 to €7,500 depending what European country you are in. This compares to around €100 for reusable products.

People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O'Neill.

“Unfortunately period poverty is all too real and stats reveal that 2 in 10 women can’t afford menstrual items and many young people are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary products.

“This council has passed previous motions on period poverty and as a result provides free products in council facilities which is really excellent, however, as we move towards developing a more sustainable and intervention addressing period poverty we need to explore how we can introduce reasonable menstrual product scheme.”

Seconding the motion, Mayor, councillor Sandra Duffy said: “I have been to a number of workshops around sustainable products and I think they are excellent and it’s one of the things we should be looking at.”

Thanking Councillor O’Neill for bringing forward the motion, Alliance councillor Rachael Ferguson described it as ‘absolutely amazing’.  She said: “There are a number of reusable options out there that people aren’t aware of and if they are aware of it the initial outlay cost is too much for them.

“This is a great way to move forward and let people know there are more options out there.”

With the support of all parties, councillor O’Neill summed up saying ‘education is key in the transition and making the switch.’

The motion passed unanimously and officers will now bring forward a report to the relevant committee on how Council might introduce a reusable menstrual products scheme, working in partnership with NIRN (Northern Ireland Reuse Network) to ensure the introduction of this scheme is sustainably and locally produced.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter