Cotton wool, cotton pads, and sanitary products belong in your REFUSE bin.


Examples: Sanitary pads, tampons, panty liners, cotton wool makeup pads, ear buds.

Please Remember: Flushing these materials causes’ huge issues in our sewerage systems, water filtration process and in our oceans, as they are all full of plastic so don’t break down. This includes ’flushable’ wipes.

Hints and Tips: Why not try reusable cloth wipes, pads, and sanitary products? Follow City to Sea and Surfers Against Sewerage to find out more about reusable products (including discount codes from City to Sea) and ocean pollution. 


  • Flushed plastics make up around 2% of beach litter in the UK. Menstrual products are the fifth most common item found on Europe’s beaches, more widespread than single-use coffee cups, cutlery or straws.
  • 8billion cotton buds are used each year in the UK, with 10% being flushed down the toilet having detrimental impacts in water ways, sewerage systems, and the ocean. Make sure you put them in your refuse bin!
  • A ‘conventional’ pack of menstrual pads contains around the same amount of plastic as 5 carrier bags. Depending on where it ends up as waste, it could have a longer life-span than the person who uses it! 
  • It’s estimated that every single day in the UK about 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed down the toilet, many blocking our sewer systems and entering rivers and oceans.