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Tuesday, April 24 • 2:45pm - 3:05pm
Terrafemme: An Investigation In Composting Menstrual Products

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Each year, the United States adds 17 billion used tampons and pads into our landfills, many of which are made from synthetic fibers, plastics, and foams that take hundreds of years to decompose. Biodegradable menstrual waste products made from natural cotton do exist in the current market, but are wastefully thrown into the trash. The goal of this research is to investigate the possibility of a compostable menstrual waste service at UNCA and in Western North Carolina. This project began through the concept of TerraFemme, a for-profit company that aims to reduce the amount of disposable menstrual napkins in landfills by providing organizations and residences a collection service that composts this material. During the fall semester, TerraFemme’s research has answered the question if composting menstrual waste was physically possible. Aerated static pile composting (ASP composting) is a system which processes conventional compost, such as food scraps and yard waste, but also commonly processes pathogenic materials like animal carcasses, animal waste, and diapers. This process allows proper moisture and aeration control for the compost pile to heat to temperatures between 130 -150 F which kills pathogens and other toxic compounds. If this process kills animal and human pathogenic waste to create potent compost, then menstrual napkins could theoretically be composted as well. Now the question is if there are pathogenic concerns regarding menstrual waste. If there are concerns, then the process in which we currently dispose of menstrual waste is endangering janitorial staff who are in constant contact and ASP composting would be an ideal disposal alternative. There is currently little research on pathogenic content in menstrual blood, which stops industries from composting this material. This research will focus on the pathogenic contents of menstrual blood as well as the logistical, legislative, and social obstacles associated with composting menstrual waste.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 2:45pm - 3:05pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall

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