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Netherlands

Riverside cleanup reveals need for biodegradable hygiene products

Schone Rivieren (Clean Rivers) advocates for all personal hygiene products, such as tampons, sanitary pads, and cotton swabs, to be mandatorily biodegradable. In their recent annual riverbank cleanup, over a thousand volunteers from the organization found an “unimaginable amount” of sanitary waste. Measures are proving to be effective, as project leader Noï Boesten noted a decrease in the number of cans found, attributed to the introduction of a deposit system in April.

Wet wipes, menstrual products, and cotton swabs often end up on riverbanks as people flush them down the toilet rather than disposing of them in the trash. This sanitary waste then enters the sewer system. In the event of a sewer overflow, such as during heavy rainfall, these products end up directly in the rivers. “What is found on the banks is only a small part. Waste also gets tangled in shrubs along the water, and some items remain underwater. Everywhere there is plastic, and it doesn’t decompose. That’s why we want measures to be taken at the European level,” Boesten said.

Sanitary waste was found along the banks of major rivers across the country. The banks of the Nederrijn near Arnhem and the Maas near Eijsden in Zuid-Limburg are particularly problematic. “The Nederrijn has a high water overflow for the Rhine from Lobith. The waste easily slips between the bars of that overflow. Near Eijsden, the Maas water arrives from Belgium. It enters the Netherlands via an overflow lock. In Eijsden, we consistently find a significant amount of Belgian waste on the banks,” he added.

Boesten suggested that the problem with baby wipes is close to a resolution: they will be required to be biodegradable across Europe within a few years. Environmentally-friendly alternatives like circular cotton swabs and tampons are already available. Schone Rivieren plans to highlight these in their upcoming campaigns.

https://nltimes.nl/2023/07/27/riverside-cleanup-reveals-need-biodegradable-hygiene-products Riverside cleanup reveals need for biodegradable hygiene products

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