Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

  • inajurga
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Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

Dear all



The State of Tamil Nadu, after they introduced sanitary pad provision to schools, it resulted in a disposal challenge.
while incinerators are considered as "gold option" they come with their own challenges (effectiveness, safely, O&M, fumes), Tamil Nadu has made good experience with composting of organic solid waste.



Are there any experiences and document ions around composting cloth, organic pads (without any plastic liners and cotton and cloth) - recommended time and practices - that we can share with the Tamil Nadu government and other interested ministries / practitioners ?


This is a problem that states and countries are suffering , particularly with a limited functioning solid waste management.

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  • muench
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Re: Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

Interesting question. So you are specifically looking at how cloth or cotton (from pads) degrades during composting?

I wonder if this report holds any clues:
Kjellén, M., Pensulo, C., Nordqvist, P., Fogde, M. (2012). Global review of sanitation systems trends and interactions with menstrual management practices - Report for the menstrual management and sanitation systems project. Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm, Sweden
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/1556

At first glance, that report looks more of the plastics contained in the disposable pads hampering the composting process. Perhaps you already checked it out?

Perhaps we should alert our colleagues at SOIL Haiti to this question, maybe they have experiences to share. Mind you I have never seen any solid waste materials in their composting photos, such as this one:

Sieving compost in prepation of final sale by Sustainable sanitation , on Flickr

I will drop them an e-mail.

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  • inajurga
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Re: Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

Hallo Elisabeth

yes, i checked the document, and the document states exactly that and that cloth "should be able to compost, especially when shredded.

But i have not seen any practical examples and experiences, and especially how long it would take.
And in case of plastic components, if shredding and sieving out after composting is doable/feasible.


thank you for contacting SOIL!

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  • joeturner
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Re: Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

Please see attached research paper on baby diaper composting in small systems - I would expect sanitary pads to be similar.

I don't think there is any particular reason why cloth should not compost - providing it is made from cotton and is shredded into small pieces.

But then maybe the only way to tell is to try: it might be that bleaches and treatments used on the fabrics will make them hard to biodegrade.

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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

Together with some friends we have done some work on vermi-composting of gauze and cotton at a hospital (after sterilization in an autoclave). If mixed with a little other organic waste and some soil, it works surprisingly well. You do need an enormous amount of worms though. And keeping composting worms happy is a bit of an art in itself.

Regards

Marijn

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Kathmandu, Nepal

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  • SOILHaiti
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Re: Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

Hi all!

At SOIL we provide our ekolakay (household toilets)'s customers with a bin where we ask them to put the toilet paper and other sanitary pads. We also advise them to burn the toilet paper and to put only bagas and poop in the poop buckets.

Thus we don't have experience composting sanitary pads. We sometimes find some when we empty the poop buckets in our composting bins. But in general our final compost has few impurities.

In Haïti it seems that a fair amount of women are using sanitary pads with a plastic lining that we can't compost.

Have a nice day and don't hesitate if you have any remarks/questions!

Posted by the SOIL Team based in Haiti since 2006. Find more information about SOIL at:
Website: www.oursoil.org
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  • inajurga
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Re: Composting of cloth and sanitary pads

Thank you so much for your support!

the baby diapers research is really helpful!

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