Dealing with menstrual waste


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  • davmax
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Re: Dealing with menstrual waste

Hi Natasha, Hopefully a helpful link:!ApUjRTKs8Tv40xvMmjW1Zauf3hEy?e=7nvczS
There are opportunities. I personally had to abandon the Kenya project in that opportunities were created but there was resistance to setting up the production and availability of compostable  pads in Africa. Without a supply of compostable pads the whole re-cycling process was non viable. I hope that some day this solution will be established. Unfortunately people have to be willing and able to change and step up to establish change.

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  • paresh
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Re: Dealing with menstrual waste

Dear Natasha,
The recently amended solid waste management rules (2016)  classify domestic waste into three categories - Wet, dry and domestic hazardous waste.  Sanitary napkins are classified as domestic hazardous waste along with other sanitary products like diapers, and containers of cleaning agents, etc. Households are expected to segregate and separately hand over the three streams of waste to collectors.

As Myli, pointed out, disposal of sanitary waste is a big challenge due to our large population. The problem is only likely to increase as the share of women using disposable sanitary ads increases, currently it is less than 60 percent.  The 2016 rules specify that the manufacturers or brand owners of sanitary napkins are responsible for awareness for proper disposal of such waste by the generator and shall provide a pouch or wrapper for disposal of each napkin or diapers along with the packet of their sanitary products. 

In my limited understanding, the products currently produced at scale are not easily biodegradable; currently incineration and disposal in a landfill are the only ways to deal with them. Therefore reducing and reusing is the only way ahead, as also indicated by posts in an earlier discussion thread . Therefore, again as Myli pointed out, governments in India are promoting manufacturing of biodegradable pads and more sustainable alternatives like menstrual cups, reusable cotton pads, cloth pads, etc. Many  NGOs and individuals are also into training women, especially from marginalised communities to produce reusable products, see for example here , here and here ; support to form an enterprise is also made available. 

Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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  • MyliJoy
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Re: Dealing with menstrual waste

Here in India, menstrual waste management is becoming a big problem because of the huge population and the lack of education & awareness. Women are disposing pads by burning, burying and throwing alongside the pond. 

India needs to take care of 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins each year.  Can you believe that?

Here's what India has done to deal with this waste:

1. The government has launched 'Clean India' campaign around 2016, giving messages and awareness to every corner of the country. Hundreds of NGOs are helping on this.
2. Women and Child Development and Human Resources India has been raising awareness on menstrual hygiene management and safe disposal. India has a problem of period taboos. So, education & awareness is important here.
3. The Health Ministry is helping private companies, small manufactures,  and NGOs to explore more about 'biodegradable menstrual hygiene products' with funding and incentives.
4. NGOs, entrepreneurs, and prominent social workers are distributing/selling cloth pads and menstrual cups at larger scale. 

Will update more...

Myli Joy, PHD
Junior Researcher
JN University, New Delhi

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Dealing with menstrual waste

Just to give you some quick answers: We have talked about incineration of menstrual waste - some organisations have looked into small scale incinerators which can be attached to toilets and are meant to take only the menstrual waste. 
See e.g. here:

Menstrual waste disposal was also discussed here:

We have also had some discussions about composting of menstrual waste if the products are compostable:

If you are really interested in reducing waste to zero then the only other option is menstrual cups. It's a good option but not all women like to use them (the fact that it involves inserting the menstrual cup into the vagina is offputting for some).


P.S. Would it make more sense to move this thread into the sub-category on "Menstrual hygiene and health" or leave it here in the solid waste management category?
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • detstvo
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  • I'm Natasha Dokovska, program director in Journalists for Human Rights from North Macedonia. As organisation we work on equitable access to WaSH and WSSP, as well as access to water as human rights
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Dealing with menstrual waste

I need information about ways of dealing with menstrual pads. In North Macedonia we have estimation that each monthly, we throw approx 6 million pads and tampons, as well as 12 millions daily pads. All this waste is treated as communal waste, only 8-10 percents is waste from hospital and center for elderly people ( it means pampers for elderly).
I need information/ experience how you deal in your country with this waste and if you know for possible recycling.
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