Playtex Sport Tampons are, “designed to move with you”. They are meant for and marketed towards the active female, and it is one of the only tampons marketed to or designed for athletes. Playtex tampons were first introduced in the 1960’s and are a major competitor to Tampax. In 1973, Playtex invented the plastic tampon inserter giving the company a unique edge in the industry. Today, Playtex sells a variety of styles of tampons, with the Sport style being one of the most popular. Each style offers regular, super and super-plus absorbency. A box of 36 Playtex Sport Tampons costs $7. Contrarily, organic labelled tampons are valued almost double, with boxes containing 18 tampons for $6. This price difference makes it difficult to choose the eco-friendlier versions, but they are definitely worth considering given the harmful environmental effects of Playtex tampons. In my opinion, aside from the harmful environmental effects of Playtex Sport tampons, one of the most disappointing parts about the product is their blatant disregard for transparency on their website. They include a tab hidden at the bottom of their page titled “sustainability”. However, this link took me to the parent company website, Edgewell. On the Edgewell website, I was able to find their sustainability report, but it did not include any information on Playtex..
The FDA classifies tampons as a medical device, so the materials that make them do not need to be disclosed with the public. This makes it difficult to know for certain what Playtex Sport makes their tampons out of. According to the FDA, "FDA-cleared tampons are made of cotton, rayon, or a blend of the two. The absorbent fibers used in FDA-cleared tampons sold today are made with a bleaching process that is free from elemental chlorine, which also prevents products from having dangerous levels of dioxin (a type of pollutant found in the environment)." FDA has three classes of medical devices, and tampons are labelled at class 2, which the FDA says "requires greater regulatory controls to provide reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness".
* _Cotton_ is a natural fiber that can biodegrade, however, it is also one of the most environmentally demanding crops. The crops are extremely water intensive and often cotton farming comes with large quantities of pesticides and chemicals that seep can seep into the groundwater.
* _Rayon_ is made from cellulose that is chemically converted from wood pulp. This process is incredibly taxing on the environment. The fiber is very absorbent, which is why it is found in most tampons.
* _Plastic Inserters_: Many of Playtex’s Sport tampons come with plastic inserters which are designed to make for easier insertion of the tampon. However, these plastic applicators are unable to be recycled for sanitary reasons, as they come in contact with human waste.
One of the main materials, rayon, is made from plants, but it's not eco-friendly. The production of rayon involves a variety of toxic chemicals and often the plant material is sourced from old-growth rainforests making the product associated with deforestation. According to the FDA, FDA-cleared tampons, including Playtex, are made through a bleaching process that is free from elemental chlorine, which also prevents products from having dangerous levels of dioxin (a type of pollutant found in the environment). The tampons are created by combining various levels of cotton and rayon with a string weaved in to the middle. Sometimes, they are then set into the plastic applicator before being packaged in another plastic sleeve. The tampons are then put into cardboard boxes and sent out to stores and distributors.
Playtex is headquartered in Westport, Connecticut. Playtex Feminine Care Products are manufactured in Canada and the United States. According to D&B Hoovers, a company that provides sales leads and sales intelligence data on over 120 million companies, says that "Playtex Products, LLC has 1,250 total employees across all of its locations and generates $420.19 million in sales (USD). There are 132 companies in the Playtex Products, LLC corporate family." However, I was unable to find any information related to workers conditions or compensation. This lack of information makes me skeptical about the working environments and who is in charge of making the tampons.