Always Radiant Pads

overall rating:

1

planets

Grace Liu
7/19/2021
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The Always Radiant Pad is a menstrual hygiene product produced by Procter & Gamble (P&G) and appreciated by female customers around the world. Personally, I’d say this is the most comfortable menstrual product I have ever used. The distinctive technology which makes Radiant Pads stand out among other competitors is called FlexFoam, which enables these pads to absorb liquids up to 10 times their weight while leaving a fresh and comfortable touch comparing to pads made from cotton. However, the comfort and conveniences provided by these pads also mean that they are designed at the cost of sustainability since they are entirely disposable and FlexFoam is essentially a kind of plastic. While P&G is making some decent effort to reinforce sustainable production in their factories around the world, they must also address issues related to labor inequality that has been constantly brought up, since P&G is such a global giant thus carry a tremendous responsibility to its customers. employees, and beyond. In general, I am not entirely against using the Always Radiant Pads but would highly recommend substituting them with cotton pads or reusable menstrual cups that provide both comfortability and sustainability.

What it's made of:

1

On their official website, Always presents a comprehensive fact sheet that displays all layers of this product, materials used for each layer, and the purpose for using each individual material. According to the fact sheet, the pad itself can be decomposed into 4 parts: the top sheet, core, back sheet, and adhesives. The top sheet is made from polypropylene, polyethylene, petrolatum, and zinc oxide emollient, which pulls the fluid away from the skin and delivers softness. These ingredients can retain skin moisture and are often used in lotions, proven to be non-harmful to human skin. The core contains absorbent polyacrylate foam (also called FlexFoam) to store fluids deep into the pad, while the bottom layer is again made from polypropylene and polyethylene to prevent fluids from touching the underwear. As for the packaging, the reseal tape and wrapper are made from polypropylene (PP) and paper, which makes PP the central ingredient of this product. Although PP has no harm to health, it is essentially a form of plastic that takes about 20-30 years to degrade and will release toxins in the process, so it is not biodegradable. However, PP is more sustainable than a lot of other plastics, for example, PVC, since it’s recyclable and causes less carbon emission to produce than PVC. It also breaks down more quickly comparing to PVC which takes over 500 years to break down. 

How it's made:

1

There is no information regarding the production process on Always’ official website. After researching, I found that Polypropylene can be processed by virtually all thermoplastic-processing methods, such as Extrusion Blow Moulding, Injection Moulding, or General Purpose Extrusion. Either way will result in a tremendous amount of carbon emission and release particles and volatile organic compounds (VOC). While not all VOCs have health effects, breathing VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, cause difficulty breathing and nausea, damage the central nervous system as well as other organs. Some VOCs can even cause cancer. However, it seems like P&G isn’t transparent about how they control the level of VOCs within the factory or how to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees. It is easy to find that Always’ products are mostly manufactured in a 700,000 square feet plant in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, then shipped to elsewhere in the world. The plant is one of P&G's largest factories in North America with around 500 employees. Till today, there are no complaints regarding air pollution caused by the plant, and the air quality indexes (such as PM2.5 and NO2) of Belleville have always been low and stable. At the same time, Always has local factories in the countries that it sells in, such as China, Malaysia, Portugal, etc, but the sizes of production are relatively small.

Who makes it:

1

The brand Always is owned by The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), the American multinational consumer goods giant headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Other than personal health products, their product portfolio also includes beauty, fabric, food, and beverages. According to their official website, P&G has made some decent efforts to be sustainable. For example, their feminine care plants worldwide have reduced solid waste by 70% since 2010, and 8 of 10 of our plants are zero waste – instead of sending waste to landfills, they reuse it for manufacturing or convert it to energy. In addition, P&G is committed to a long-term goal of powering all facilities with 100% renewable energy and using 100% renewable or recycled materials for products and packaging. However, P&G is not among one of the most ethical companies as it frequently faces complaints regarding child labor and forced labor. Back in 2015, a petition emerged that openly condemns P&G's indifferent attitude toward potential human trafficking in a Malaysia plantation called Felda Global Ventures, where P&G sources its palm oils from. P&G passively responded by highlighting their Sustainability Guidelines for Suppliers, that they are against forced labor but only “expect suppliers or contractors with whom we do business to uphold the same standards.” Clearly, as the world's largest consumer packaged goods company with nearly $84 billion in sales and more than $10 billion in net earnings, P&G has absolute power to choose whom they do business with or to eliminate forced labor in supplier companies if they really tried.