Our scientists have rated 146 Tampons products
GoodGuide scientifically rates the health, environmental, and social performance of products and companies.
Environment scores are assigned to tampons by combining company-level environmental indicators (weighted at 75%) with supplemental product-level environmental indicators (weighted at 25%). Available product-level information is almost exclusively focused on the types of materials used in the product or packaging and does not cover all impacts of the product over its life cycle. Environmental attributes that are relevant to tampons that are only addressed via a company’s Environment score include production waste, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity and ecosystem impacts.
Product-level Environment scores for this category are based on:
- Materials management indicators, including the type of absorbent material, the type of applicator and packaging attributes
- Toxic waste indicators, specifically the type of bleaching process used
We selected these supplemental product-level attributes after reviewing category life cycle assessments (which are used to identify the hot spots in a product life cycle) and assessing data availability.
Health scores are not assigned to tampons, because this product category does not result in significant human exposure to potentially harmful ingredients. Assertions that tampons represent a source of exposure to hazardous chemicals like asbestos or dioxin, or that rayon is a cause of toxic shock syndrome have been rejected by authoritative agencies charged with regulating the safety of tampons.
Product-level data on social performance are generally unavailable for specific food products, so GoodGuide relies on company-level social scores to characterize the performance of a product on this dimension.
For each of the supplemental attributes selected, we apply the following scoring rules:
- Absorbent Material – According to life cycle assessment studies, a significant portion of the environmental impact associated with manufacturing tampons is related to the choice of material used to provide absorbency in the product. Normalized to volume, rayon is more efficient at absorption and results in less impact across most standard environmental indicators, including greenhouse gas and water quality indicators. Cotton is a less preferable choice than rayon because cotton farming requires more water and energy inputs than rayon. Organic cotton is preferred over conventional cotton due to the use of sustainable agricultural practices eliminating most pesticide use. Note that many tampon packages indicate they are a mix of cotton and rayon and do not specify actual percentage compositions. In the GoodGuide system, organic cotton is scored higher than these unspecified blends, which could contain a significant amount of conventional cotton.
- Applicator – ‘No applicator’ products are preferred because they do not have the resource consumption or waste management requirements that are associated with applicator product assembly and disposal. While there is no standard for differentiating between types of applicators, GoodGuide scores ‘flushable’ applicators as better than ‘cardboard’ and/or ‘biodegradable’ applicators because ‘flushable’ usually indicates standardized material testing to prove degradability in normal wastewater treatment operations. Plastic applicators are scored lower than cardboard applicators because they weigh approximately twice as much, and the relative environmental impact of this component scales with weight.
- Packaging – Refers to the recycled content of paper fibers used for the product box. While recycled fiber content can change over time, the package text was used to indicate the minimum percentage of recycled fibers in a product’s packaging. Product packages either stated they were made from 100% recycled fiber or had no information.
- Wrapping – Flushable wrappers are preferred as they will be broken down in wastewater treatment systems and not contribute to solid waste streams. Plastic film wrappers are preferred over paper wrappers as they weigh significantly less, and the relative environmental impact of this component scales with weight.
- Material Processing – The absorbent material in tampons typically undergoes some form of bleaching process, similar to many paper products. Historically, bleaching done using elemental chlorine produced and released large amounts of chlorinated organic compounds (including dioxins) into the environment. This method is no longer in use in the US. Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) processing is the preferred processing option for bleaching the absorbent material because it uses a non-halogenated bleaching process, typically with hydrogen peroxide or another oxygen based process. Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) processing is currently the industry standard practice and is given preference over ‘No information’ to provide manufacturers with an incentive to disclose their bleaching process.