Boys need bins!

The Boys Need Bins campaign, led by Prostate Cancer UK, is calling on the Government to change legislation so that sanitary bins are provided in all mens’ toilets

A survey of men living with incontinence reveals that 95% feel anxiety due to a lack of sanitary bin in men’s toilets, with no way of disposing of pads hygienically and nearly one third of men surveyed have been forced to carry their own waste in a bag!

One in three men over 65 in the UK experience urinary incontinence, and one in 20 men aged 60 and over live with bowel incontinence.  The ‘Boys need Bins’ campaign, led by Prostate Cancer UK, is calling on the government to change existing legislation so that sanitary bins are provided in all men's toilets.

Nick Ridgman, Head of Health Information & Clinical Support at Prostate Cancer UK, says: “A man living with incontinence shouldn’t have to worry that he might have to carry around his own used pads when he’s out of the house, just because he can’t access a sanitary bin to dispose of it hygienically.

“For the hundreds of thousands of men in the UK living with incontinence, this is their reality.  Their lives are being limited by the taboo that surrounds male incontinence, and the anxiety caused by a lack of basic facilities in men’s toilets.

“I hope that this report sends a clear message to policy makers, workplaces and businesses that men urgently need sanitary bins in their loos — just like there are in women’s toilets.  I’m excited that real change is already happening across the four nations, as our Boys need Bins campaign builds momentum.

“Prostate Cancer UK is here to support everyone affected by the disease, including those living with incontinence.  We won't rest until we squash the stigma around this issue, spark a national conversation, and ensure that bins are installed in every toilet across the UK.”

Incontinence adversely affects mental health

Most men living with incontinence experience poor mental health because they can’t access a sanitary bin in men's toilets, according to an alarming new report by Prostate Cancer UK, released at an event in September 2023 for the ‘Boys Need Bins’ campaign.

A survey of men who have experienced incontinence, completed between March and May this year, reveals the desperate need for sanitary bins — like those found in women’s toilets — to be provided in all men’s toilets across the UK.

95% of men surveyed said that they feel anxiety and stress, because they might not be able to dispose of their pad, pouch, stoma, or other incontinence products hygienically in an appropriate sanitary bin in a cubicle, when they go out.

Worryingly, around half of the men (44%) stated that they now reduce the amount of time they spend out of the house due to incontinence and we can assume this has an impact on their social lives too, presenting a strong argument for sectors in leisure and hospitality to provide male sanitary bins.

Because of the lack of sanitary bins in men’s toilets, almost a third of those surveyed shared that they have been forced to carry their own waste in a bag, so that they can either dispose of it in a public litter bin or take it home with them.

Other men feel that if they cannot change their incontinence products privately and discreetly, their only option is to keep them on.  87% of the men surveyed said they’ve worn incontinence pads for longer than they would like — and half of them have done so for two hours or longer.

The answer to this is simple: 98% of the men surveyed agree that sanitary bins should be made available in men’s public washrooms.  

Prostate Cancer UK and Boys need Bins partners also undertook a parallel survey of 62 workplaces in the private, public, charity and small business sectors, to understand if they had a hygiene disposal plan for men’s toilets, excluding disabled toilet provision. This found that a staggering 73% of workplaces didn’t have any plan in place, showing that the needs of men had not been considered.  And while most catering operators are mindful of what they pour down the kitchen sink, it seems that most respondents to the survey weren’t considering a hygiene disposal plan for men.  Anecdotally, cost is a barrier to the introduction of male sanitary bins, yet according to the survey, One in five workplaces were paying to unblock men’s toilets and one in three were estimating the annual cost of doing so at up to £5,000 per year!  With just one bin costing between £29-£108 per annum, surely this would be a win-win for businesses?

Between 3-6 million people in the UK live with urinary incontinence, and while it has traditionally been considered a women’s issue, a huge number of those affected are men — including many of the 475,000 men in the country living with, or after, prostate cancer.

One in three men over 65 in the UK experience urinary incontinence, and one in 20 men aged 60 and over live with bowel incontinence.

'Boys need Bins’ is a collaborative campaign to break the taboo surrounding male incontinence, to start a national conversation about the need for sanitary bins in men’s toilets, and to get existing legislation on the provision of bins in women’s toilets amended — so that bins can be accessed in all toilets across the UK.

This will allow men to correctly dispose of incontinence pads, stoma bag byproducts, and associated hygiene waste items in a safe, hygienic way – giving men their dignity back.     

Prostate Cancer UK is working alongside leading charities and associations: Bladder Health UK, British Toilet Association, International Longevity Centre, Men's Health Forum, Tackle Prostate Cancer, Truckers Toilets UK, and the Urostomy Association as well as additional support from corporate partner phs Group.  The work is supported by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bladder and Bowel Continence Care, who initiated the campaign in 2018.

See more information on Prostate Cancer UK’s website

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