Golden Group International, Ltd. (GGI) recently introduced a unique sanitary disposal bag for public restrooms that is expected to drastically reduce plumbing problems and improve restroom cleanliness, while providing a “smart” green solution for companies and individuals who want to both prevent waste and pollution.
Sani SAC™, a sanitary, sealable, degradable plastic bag, is the company’s environmentally friendly solution for the disposal of tampons/napkins, diapers and other similar items in public restrooms. GGI has created a 50-bag box, a 125-bag roll and a 5-bag handi-pack. The degradable bags break down in landfills within 12 to 18 months. By using them, companies keep the disposed items from winding up in sewers, and leading to waterways and oceans when sewers overflow.
Jackie Transue, President of GGI, said she had the idea for founding GGI in 2007 while traveling on business as the president of her own mortgage company. She said practically every restroom in several states had a sign in the women’s room requesting disposal of sanitary items in wastebaskets instead of toilets.
“The light bulb went off and I thought that there must be a better solution than wasting so much toilet paper for wrapping tampons or napkins,” Ms. Transue said.“Also, sometimes women are embarrassed to place items in a wastebasket– that’s why they are tempted to flush them.”
While some bathrooms contain disposal areas for sanitary napkins/tampons, typically they are lined by a waxed paper bag, which does not address the waste of wrapping the items in toilet paper. The waxed bags are intrinsically less environmentally responsible than the Sani SAC™. According to Golden Group studies, the average menstruating female uses one extra roll of toilet paper during menstruation for the purpose of feminine hygiene disposal alone. During her lifetime, she would use an additional 450 rolls of toilet paper for this purpose. That translates to 9.5 trees per woman. Based on that, the 125 million current menstruating females would account for 380 million trees cut down for toilet paper used for this disposal over 35-40 years, the average menstrual lifetime.
One of the areas where the Sani SAC™ could make a major impact is in reducing the amount of tampon applicators that end up in the ocean, Ms. Transue said. She notes that the Ocean Conservancy’s 2009 report, “A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris,” cites medical/personal hygiene items, such as tampons and tampon applicators, disposable diapers and syringes, as one of the greatest categories of debris, entering the oceans through sewer systems. The United States is one of the worst offenders in this area, with tampon applicators and medical debris comprising 5% of its ocean pollution, compared to a worldwide average of 1%.
Sani SAC™ bags are made from polyethylene and an additive, which utilizes a unique ion prodegradant system that will cause a high level of controlled degradation in the finished product after a period of light exposure. The bags ultimately degrade into CO2, H2O and biomass, whether they wind up in a landfill or other avenue of the waste stream. The non-toxic bags are harmless to humans, animals or plant life.
Kevin Hanna, co-founder and Vice President of GGI, said the company’s product is an example of a “smart” green effort because it promotes sustainability, while also breaking down harmlessly.
Transue notes that Sani SAC™ is superior to paper not only in terms of green aspects, but also because it is stronger, more sanitary and more private.
“It is double-layered, so it is opaque and is very sturdy,” Ms. Transue said. “A waxed bag can tear easily and does not seal. If you need to carry the Sani SAC™ bag in your purse or luggage, it is very compact, as it is available in a convenient 5-bag pack. If you need to use the Sani SAC™ bag and don’t find there is a place to dispose of it, you can put it in your purse to throw away later.”
Currently in use by many institutional and governmental janitorial services, Sani SAC™ reduces plumbing repair costs in these facilities caused by clogged pipes, according to Mr. Hanna. Plumbing costs range from $70 to $135 per hour in the United States, and could run higher in an emergency situation on a weekend or holiday.
“The reduction of plumbing expenses to relieve clogged toilets and pipes, the reduction of paper waste, the avoidance of clean-up and the priceless value of not losing the use of the restroom in a busy restaurant or a rentable hotel room make this a cost-effective product for the hospitality industry, among others,” Mr. Hanna said.
The products have the added benefit of protecting janitorial staff from exposure to disposed items that potentially could carry dangerous viruses or bacteria. These items include sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, adhesive bandages, wipes and diapers.
The reactions by women who have used Sani SAC™ have been overwhelmingly positive.
“They appreciate the convenience, hygiene and opportunity to be discreet,” Ms. Transue said. “Up until the introduction of this product and our effort to bring awareness to the issues, many women did not understand the environmental impact of flushing these items. It was ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for many people, but once we explain the environmental and plumbing impact, they are eager to do their part.”
“This creates good will and overall customer satisfaction for businesses,” Mr. Hanna said. “The environmental benefit, too, will help save in clean-up costs and in the damage to our waterways and to marine life. By keeping costs down with products such as Sani SAC™, hotels can pass along the savings in the form of lower rates to their customers.”
The company’s goal is no less than to become a household name in green disposal. “I expect that the Sani SAC™ will be in most eco-friendly hotels, offices, restaurants and public spaces within the next year as they become aware of it,” Ms. Transue said. “We hope to reach every household soon after.”
Golden Group International, Ltd. (GGI) is a leading provider of quality sanitary and environmentally safe disposal bags, catering to institutional, sports arena, restaurant and hotel industries. Founded in 2008, GGI has earned certifications from the Green Business Association and the “Green” Hotels Association® for its degradable products. The New York-based company has also created a retail line of Sani SAC™ products to meet home demand.