Updated: Aug 29, 2020
There is currently a rise of awareness around menstruation and sanitary health. Everyone probably remembers, Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar, talking about the issue. More and more women are getting access to disposable menstrual hygiene products, even though the war is still not won. However, parallelly, we need to address the management and safe disposal of used menstrual hygiene products. Have you ever wondered what happens to the tampon or the pad after it had been discarded?
Post menstrual waste comes under solid waste and is classified as sanitary waste. A little more than 35% menstruating women in India use disposable sanitary products that leads to the generation of 1,13,000 tons of menstrual waste per year*. Most of the waste is not biodegradable or compostable due to the plastics and super absorbent polymers (SAPs) used to manufacture these products.
Incineration of this waste leads to the emission of toxic and carcinogenic gases in the environment. Many incinerating and composting models, made to handle sanitary waste that are available in the market, do not take environmental impact into account. Disposing sanitary waste in the landfills may have severe health implications as it risks exposure of bacteria like E. coli into soil and water bodies. Unsafe management of waste puts waste workers at the risk of infections due to handling of sanitary waste. Many people lack the access to effective sanitary waste disposal options, due to the taboo and lack of awareness around the topic of menstruation itself.
Thus, it is very crucial to talk about effective disposal of sanitary waste. Using and manufacturing models that deal with safe disposal of sanitary waste while impacting the environment minimally, is a solution. Government regulation and subsidization for management of sanitary waste is necessary to increase the availability of infrastructure for safe disposal to most people. Taking care of segregating sanitary waste from other household waste can help improve dignity and health of waste workers considerably. Wrapping and marking the disposed products with a red dot, helps waste workers identify sanitary waste. India has made this mandatory since January 21st. Read more at #WNews
Carrying back your sanitary waste, to be disposed off efficiently, while travelling can reduce your impact on nature and protect the wildlife. Switching to environment friendly products like re-usable pads and diapers or menstruation cups can reduce impact on the environment. Other than saving on environmental impact, menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads are also cost effective than disposable products, they can save a lot of money from your pocket. Biodegradable options of these products are also available.
What products to use is completely your decision, but taking care of safe disposal is also your duty.
Hello readers, I am Saee Gunjal, author of this Wlog. I am studying Environmental Engineering from 'The University of Toledo' ( Toledo, Ohio) and love to dance. I am passionate about environmental issues and waste management. I plan to work with the same after I graduate. Stay tuned for my next wlog