The sanitary bin and warnings such as ‘Do Not Flush Feminine Products!’ have become a feature of women’s public bathrooms throughout Britain.

This talk examines the three historical phases of sanitary bin technology and its meanings. First, the pioneering phase when the bin was needed to tackle the problems of flushing menstrual products and unpopular incinerators. Second, the environmental phase when campaigners boosted the industry as they called for more regulations regarding menstrual product waste. Third, the high-tech phase of the 2000s.

This talk presents the sanitary bin in its historical context for the first time, and argues that it reveals changing attitudes towards menstruation, the environment and bathroom politics.


Speaker Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik is Associate Professor in History at the University of Agder in Norway. She is Honorary Researcher at the University of St Andrews School of Art History, and Honorary Lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen. Camilla leads the Wellcome Trust-funded Menstruation Research Network UK and is author of Cash Flow: The Businesses of Menstruation (UCL Press, 2022).