The issue of sanitary napkins disposal has become a major hygiene and health problem. This issue becomes more complicated because of throwing away of waste, causing of pollution of the environment through the non-biodegradable, harmful content.
But modern technology has brought in the system of sanitary napkin incinerator which could deal with some of these problems. There is a need to spread awareness of role of sanitary napkins during menstruation of girls and women and how important is their proper disposal.
Disposal of sanitary napkins is a global problem. Its implications are worse in India because municipal solid waste is highly unorganized and there is poor collection of used sanitary pads by the community as well as lack of transportation and disposal networks in villages and cities.
An estimated amount of 9000 tonnes of sanitary pad waste (432 million) are generated annually in the country. Over 80% of such waste either gets flushed down toilets or dumped in landfills resulting in a major environmental problem in India.
Incineration is an effort to reduce the sanitary waste choking the landfills. As for the government, it has encouraged this solution by setting up incinerators in educational set-ups across the country.
Incinerators help in sanitary napkin disposal by reducing sanitary napkins to ash of sterile nature, within seconds. This ash can be disposed of in the toilet or used as manure.
However, there is the issue of incinerator emissions polluting the environment. There is also a division in the sanitation problem which must be recognized. Women in rural, remote regions of the nation are still ruled by taboos in society and do not have the financial and emotional freedom to use and discard sanitary napkins.
Some companies in India have come up with the idea of cheap, hygienic and eco-friendly sanitary napkins to help such women. Some have begun to distribute eco-friendly pad creating machines to the hands of women in less developed and poor areas.
Some pads provided by such companies use natural quality wood pulp sheets which do not comprise of the environmentally harmful SAP (Super Absorbent Polymer). Because of this, there is no risk of long term complications or carcinogenic impact.
Some companies advocate cloth pads. Basically, one cloth pad that can be used for 75 washes, amount to 75 use and discard sanitary napkins. Such cloth pads save much quantum of waste. Created using natural materials, such pads are healthier if cared for in proper fashion and help save much money.
It is widely recognized that when sanitary napkins are flushed down toilets, they can pollute rivers and streams, cause hormonal changes in wildlife and disrupt the food chain be encouraging growth of harmful microbes. Also, most sanitary napkins are only bio-degradable in part.
Disposal of sanitary napkins is also a health issue for scavengers and cleaning professionals. Such workers handle sanitary waste by hand. But the sanitary waste is a breeding ground for microbes like bacteria which can cause serious infectious diseases. The modern solution for this is the development of no-touch systems of waste disposal that reduce the danger of cross contamination.
Thus, problem of disposal of sanitary napkins is solved by modern solutions like incinerators and no-touch disposal systems.