A History of The UK Sanitary Towel Bin & How These Services Have Changed


It’s almost 65 years since Citron Hygiene revolutionised sanitary hygiene in the UK by introducing the first sanitary hygiene unit to the market. Since 1955, we have continued to lead the way; providing sanitary bin services to businesses across the country ensuring females can dispose of sanitary hygiene waste effectively and hygienically.

We have also continued to innovate and develop our sanitary bins and services; now offering a range of options to suit different businesses and washrooms.

We may have come a very long way since 1955, but did you know sanitary bins are rooted in deep history and are still very much a talking point when it comes to current issues relating to the environment, period poverty, technology and bathroom politics.

Our blog explores the history of the sanitary bin, how sanitary bin services have changed over the years and what sanitary hygiene looks like now.

Before Sanitary Bins – What did females do?

For as long as we can remember, females have been having periods. It may be a completely normal biological process but there was a time that sanitary waste disposal units and period products didn’t even exist; with menstruation being very much a taboo subject.

The first period product; the sanitary apron was only introduced in 1850 and was thought to be extremely heavy and unhygienic. It wasn’t until the early 1920’s that the first sanitary pad came on the market. A costly solution to menstruation management, the pads were aimed at wealthy white women who would enter stores and then leave money in a jar to take a pad for themselves. The idea behind this was so that attention was not drawn to the individual as menstruation was still seen as embarrassing to talk about.[1]

Although there was an increase of period products available on the market, females would still go to extreme measures to dispose of their sanitary waste; flushing or hiding waste behind toilets and pipes. Frequently, females would carry their sanitary waste around with them; waiting to find a suitable place to dispose of it. In some washrooms and buildings, incinerators could be found however these were often smelly, unhygienic or blocked leading to even more issues for females.[2]

The Evolution of Sanitary Bins and Sanitary Bin Services

Citron Hygiene recognised the fact that facilities for sanitary waste disposal were not appropriate or effective and revolutionised sanitary hygiene by bringing the first sanitary bin to the market in 1955. The original sanitary bin was similar to what we are familiar with now; a simple grey bin that fitted into the small space next to toilets, operated by a foot or hand pedal.

Sanitary bin services evolved at the same time with drivers (usually female) servicing businesses and removing the sanitary bins for hygienic and clean new ones. On return to the depot, sanitary waste would then be tipped into an incinerator and bins cleaned out thoroughly.

Popularity and use of period products coincided with a boom of females in the workplace in the 1960s and 70s.[3] Whilst in many businesses, there were effective sanitary waste disposal facilities, not all workplaces were following suit. There were now even more products on the market; tampons and maxi-pads included but some females still ended up flushing waste these down toilets. As increase in blocked drains had significant negative consequences on the environment and plumbing; not to mention the costs involved.

Introduction of Germicide in Sanitary Bins

Coupled with issues relating to waste and the environment, a study conducted in the late 1970s found that large faecal matter and harmful bacteria was found in a sample of over 400 sanitary products[4]. The level of harmful bacteria found was a cause for concern; particularly as it could pose a significant health risk to users and service operators.

To ensure sanitary bins and sanitary bin services were meeting high hygiene standards, companies started adding germicide to sani-bins. Adding effective germicide would be the best way to reduce high levels of hazardous bacteria found in sanitary disposal units.

Today, Citron Hygiene only use the E-Card in all our sanitary waste disposal units. The E-Card offers high levels of hygiene, killing 99.999% of harmful germs and bacteria in actual units.

Sanitary Waste Disposal Legislation

Following on from this and to address inconsistences between businesses, laws were introduced in the 1990s to ensure all companies where females either worked or visited, provided sanitary waste disposal facilities.

The Workplace Regulations Act 1992 states that all companies should provide effective means for the disposal of feminine hygiene waste. This includes sanitary bins or sanitary bags. The Water Industries Act 1991 further states that sanitary bins should be provided as no waste that causes problems with sewers and drains should be flushed down the toilets.

The introduction of laws helped to normalize periods and ensure females could dispose of sanitary waste hygienically and safely no matter where they are.

Sanitary Bins for Every Washroom

If we jump forward to today, sanitary bins have come a long way. Whilst, we still see the foot-pedal operated, grey sani bins in many washrooms up and down the country, companies are now seeking more modern, attractive alternatives.  Providing sanitary bins is no longer just a case of odour control, hygiene and functionality; aesthetics is important too.

Citron Hygiene have continued to innovate and develop their range of sanitary bins, offering solutions to suit different business needs and washroom designs.

Citron Hygiene Sanitary Bins

Citron Hygiene have various sanitary bins in their range suitable for different washroom environments. The Citron Hygeia is perfect for washrooms where space be limited due to its compact style. Additionally, the built in infra-red sensor offers touch-free operation which is extremely hygienic; a marked difference in foot-pedal or hand operated sanitary bins from 65 years ago.

However, for businesses looking for a classic design, Citron Hygiene offer the classic sanitary bin – the perfect solution for sanitary waste disposal.

As washrooms are all built differently, some may be even more constricted on space.  For this reason, Citron Hygiene have developed the Mini sanitary waste bin to ensure businesses can provide feminine hygiene waste disposal facilities to females.

Custom Design Sanitary Waste Units

Washrooms have grown to be one of the most important rooms in a business or workplace – integral to the customer experience and can support the brand image.

Businesses no longer have to choose traditional grey sanitary bins for their washrooms as new stylish, modern designs come on the market. For businesses looking to impress and delight, Citron Hygiene offer the Citron Hygeia; a sanitary bin with a unique shape and off the floor design. The off the floor design makes the unit extremely hygienic but it can even be custom wrapped in an attractive design to complement your washroom décor and brand.

Our Eco-Friendly Sanitary Bin Services

Citron Hygiene were the first company in the UK to provide a solution for sanitary hygiene waste disposal and to this day, our drivers provide a full unit replacement service at every visit. This ensures optimum levels of hygiene for your washroom users.

Sanitary Hygiene Today

Introduction of sanitary bins and period products has helped to normalise periods and contributed to tackling the stigmas associated with menstruation. Although, there is still considerable stigma and issues relating to sanitary hygiene management, the UK is moving in the right direction.

Recently, campaigns and government schemes have aimed to tackle the very real issue of period poverty in the UK; whilst attention has been given to ensuring all females can manage their periods safely and hygienically, with dignity and respect. Part of this, is ensuring females have access to sanitary disposal units that are clean and hygienic wherever they are.

Provision of sanitary bins is also important from the environmental viewpoint; ensuring that females don’t flush items down the toilet. It’s further predicted that new sanitary waste disposal solutions will come to market; as individuals and companies seek more eco-friendly products and services.

Choose Citron Hygiene for Sanitary Bin Services – Leading Sani Bin Suppliers

Ensure you are providing the very best sanitary waste disposal facilities in your washroom.

Get in touch with Citron Hygiene to learn more about our sanitary bins and sanitary bin services by contacting us on 08000 66 55 52 or use the contact form on this page.

Find out how we can help elevate your washroom experience. Talk to us.

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