Many of us made the switch to reusable period cups because they’re a low-waste period product. That’s why so many people ask if menstrual cups are recyclable and how to dispose of a menstrual cup in an eco-friendly way.
Are Menstrual Cups Recyclable?
Medical grade silicone menstrual cups are not recyclable through any conventional methods and cannot be placed into your recycle bins. One brand, DivaCup, does have its own DivaCares Recycling program. They recycle their wipes packaging and their cups through Terracyle.
How Long Do Menstrual Cups Last?
Menstrual cups can last up to ten years. How do you know when it’s time to retire a cup? Look for signs of degrading such as a chalky texture, sticky feeling, or any cracks or tears in the material. Most people never get the honor of incinerating their cups and lose them before the cups need replacing. Stained menstrual cups do not need to be replaced, you can remove menstrual cup stains with peroxide.
How to Dispose of a Menstrual Cup
When it’s finally time to say goodbye to your silicone menstrual cup you can burn it to ash. Medical grade silicone is derived from silica, which is found in sand. Silicone is made through a chemical process but from natural materials, so the ash left behind isn’t harmful to the environment.
The best method would be to get a good outdoor fire going and toss your cup in, letting the fire do its thing. I used a torch and this took a very long time to fully burn the cup since it didn’t hold a flame on its own, but it did make for a very cool timelapse. I can think of no better send-off than ceremonially burning your menstrual cup and scattering the ashes.
You don’t have to burn your cup to get rid of it, you can also throw it away or find a creative way to upcycle it, but if you want the satisfaction of knowing you’ve effectively left no trace of your menstrual cup behind this is a fun way.
How to Dispose of TPE Menstrual Cups
What if your menstrual cup is made from TPE? Brands such as MeLuna, Hello Cup, Oi, and Elanee are made from TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) which is a plastic. These cups cannot be burned. Instead, some brands like Hello Cup have a recycling program. If your recycling center accepts 7 Plastics you can recycle there.
How to Dispose of Natural Rubber Cups
A few brands of menstrual cups, like Keeper Cup and Hevea’s Loop Cup, are made from natural rubber. These are compostable and break down naturally over time under the right conditions.
Cups That Don’t Work For You
Do you need to get rid of a menstrual cup that is still in good working order? Look for a menstrual cup swap group. It’s a good way to make sure a cup that didn’t work for you doesn’t go to waste. Understandably not all people are comfortable with this idea but if both parties understand that boiling the cup will sterilize it then why not?