As South Africa shifts steadily towards more sustainable means of living, with a focus on reducing waste, so too does the sanitary waste industry. Reusable sanitary items are becoming big business as they offer more environmentally-friendly solutions to some of our biggest waste problems.
The biohazardous waste associated with these products means that expensive handling and disposal methods are required. To add to this, the spread of infectious diseases is prevalent if the waste is not treated correctly.
The growing sanitary industry
The sanitary industry is developing reusable products to improve hygiene, reduce costs and risk to the waste management handlers. This industry is growing fast and is expected to reach R17 billion by 2022, according to Euromonitor International, a global business research company.
Cloth nappies and menstrual cups are among the goods in the reusable sanitary market. “Modern non-store retailers that buy, produce and sell reusable diapers have evolved from only a handful in 2013 to over 100 non-store retailers in 2018,” says Euromonitor International associate analyst Jacques Olivier.
“Initially, the main reason for purchase was based on the products’ exclusivity and high quality,” he says. “In recent years, a shift occurred towards lower quality products as demand was driven by more affordable diapers. What we are seeing today is many small-scale players introducing a wider product choice based on price,” says Olivier.
Affordability is a key factor
For young parents, nappies are a huge expense. This is the main reason for the increasing demand for alternative and reusable options. Reusable nappy sales have grown by 7.5% over the past year and is expected to become a R6 billion rand market in the next four years.
Reusable sanitary wear appeals to all income spectrums. At the lower end, working-class South Africans opt for reusable sanitary wear for affordability reasons and because some NGOs hand them out for free at clinics. Middle- and upper-class citizens have also started using these products for environmental and health awareness reasons.
“The social classes in South Africa are expected to show similar rates of expansion by 2030, as the country’s wide income gap is not expected to change over the long term,” argues Danielle le Clus Rossouw, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International. “Opportunities will continue generating for companies targeting consumers at both ends of the income spectrum,” she concludes.
This industry has evolved out of necessity and a shifting mindset towards health and the environment. The South African reusable sanitary industry will be a key market to watch for investors in the coming years.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
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