Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

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  • SharmilaC
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Hello, Sorry we were not part of the forum earlier but with some of your reference we joined in. Our Anandipads is the 1st & only certified ( ISO 17088) fully compostable pads in India. Unfortunately there are several fake claims are there in the market now, who are fooling consumers by normal or oxo-degradable pads and even selling it at 2-3 times cost than of P&G, J&J brands. We have composted our pads in vermi-composting process in lab, field trials in schools, community in Nepal. We are selling our pads pack of 8 for 40 INR for many years. Now we are entering urban market with our ultrathin version(in Amazon and other online portals) with industry 1st BioSAP. A portion of revenue from every purchase of commercial pads will go for providing free pads for needy women & girls in interior villages and those pads will also be produced in our village production unit, thus giving employment opportunities for rural women.  We will also launch fully compostable baby diapers soon at an affordable price. Please feel free to reach out to us for any queries. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  • canaday
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Hi Sharmila,

Congrats.

Can you tell us more about what your pads are made of and what the process is like? Are you expanding into other countries? The idea of compostable baby diapers is a BIG step toward sustainability. I would recommend that all of these compostable pads and diapers can simply be dropped into Urine-diverting Dry Toilets.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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  • lucasdengel
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear Sharmila,
I am eager to know what the compostable pads are made of, at least as eager as Chris in South America. (I am at home in India.) Your website states, "The compostable Anandi pad is produced with locally sourced agriwastes." - While this statement does not deter me - a man, with countryside upbringing, farm work experience, medical studies, working with UDDTs and ecosan solutions - it sounds as if it could keep away urbanites with little understanding of ecological cycles and plant fibres and cellulose and down-to-earth hygiene. In India urban women, the more "educated" the more, are afraid of "germs" and conditioned to keep hygiene issues as far away as possible. I cannot imagine that "agriwastes" as the raw material for a menstrual pad has any positive meaning for them. 
Please clarify.
Thanks a lot, Lucas  
Dr. Lucas Dengel
Executive
EcoPro
Aurosarjan Complex, Auroshilpam
Auroville - 605101, India
website EcoPro: www.ecopro.in
personal e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • lucasdengel
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

My earlier mail to Sharmila requires a comment:
The website of Anandi pad also clarifies that the raw material for the pads is water hyazinth, bamboo, banana stem etc.
The question in reference to offering the pad to urban women remains: How is this "marketed"? How is this sold? Are there disadvantages in regard to bulkiness, discomfort etc. etc.? - If this technology is technically and in regard to the user's convenience without disadvantages, what would hamper its adoption and use? (Besides and along with the use of decent washable pads or the cup)
Thanks, Lucas    
Dr. Lucas Dengel
Executive
EcoPro
Aurosarjan Complex, Auroshilpam
Auroville - 605101, India
website EcoPro: www.ecopro.in
personal e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • SharmilaC
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear Chris,

Sorry for late reply, I was not well.  We have made pads with several bio- materials. In our village product we use hydrophilic nonwoven from bio-based materials as top layer, PLA/PBAT based Bioplastics as back barrier layer, Elementary Chlorine Free wood pulp from sustainable forest or Airlaid Paper with BioSAP(our unique natural super absorbent) as absorbent core, water soluble gum, release paper & PLA/PBAT based Bioplastics for packaging. We are also making pads with Jute, Water Hyacinth, Bagasse, Banana fiber, Bamboo pulp as absorbent core in combinations in pilot scales in India and Africa. We are launching our product in urban market in a month where the change in materials will be top layer- we will use a combination of Global organic textile standard certified 100% organic cotton & hydrophobic nonwoven from bio-based materials. We are present in 10 countries through our mini-factory partners in India, Africa, Nepal and are in discussion with several others developed countries for our urban product. But the idea of expanding to urban commercial market is not for just making money, but more importantly supporting village women, girls & communities in a better way. Every sales we make in urban market a portion of money will go for giving free pads(produced in village mini-factories owned, run by village women groups, creating sustainable livelihood for them) along with unbiased, scientific menstrual hygiene education(which also talks about cloth, cloth pads, disposable pads, tampons, menstrual cups as bucket of choice, we believe in informed choice & freedom of choice for choosing menstrual hygiene product by women & girls themselves) to needy women & girls in remote villages. We have been doing this for last 7-8 years through partner funds, now will generate our own funds and do it in much larger scale.

We are also working on compostable baby diaper, will share details as soon we are ready to commercialise it. We have been vermi-composting our pads & exploring other practical options with partners and fellow network members like you. Looking forward to your support to expand our solution to more needy women & girls around the developing world.

with regards
Sharmila
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  • SharmilaC
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear Lucas,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have shared the materials information in my reply, please see if you have any more queries on it, happy to clarify. On the agri-waste,plant fibres and cellulose as materials, please understand pine wood pulp(which is most commonly used materials as absorbent core for pads, diapers, tampons across the world) is a plant based pulp only, even another popular material(in USA, Europe & India among urban women & girls) in recent days, organic cotton is also a plant based material. So, the challenge is not the what materials you are using, it is the hygiene & safety of any materials used in the products which is important for them as per our understanding. We work very hard to ensure that unlike many other multi-national products which use harmful crude oil based SAP, fragrances & other toxic ingredients without disclosing it's harmful effects to the consumers. We have ben researching on indigenous raw materials for last 10 years without receiving any funding for RnD, but we will commercialise those materials only when we are sure about it's 1)hygiene & safety, 2)availability & supply-chain, 3) cost effectiveness/commercial feasibility from other currently used alternatives. I hope this gives clarity to you, happy to answers any of your queries as ethics, transparency (leaving our proprietary info) & scientific thought process has been core of our organisation. We struggle a lot because of these values but we have been proudly working in the sector for last decade with people, International organisations, Govt.s across the globe recognising our work in the menstrual hygiene sector. 
with regards
Sharmila
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  • SharmilaC
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear Lucas,

We have been working in the villages for past 10 years and selling our compostable pads since 2013 and have reached out to more than a million consumers till date in villages. We never said that we are perfect, but we are a believer of learning from anyone, so over the years we learnt a lot from our village unit workers, village consumers and have been improving our product. We test our village product every month from all units as per BIS (Govt. of India) for sanitary pads in our in house lab by IIT-Kgp scholar, make report & share it with the unit supervisors, our operations team, donors for scope of improvements(if any). Our pads are certified by BIS, NABL authorised labs. Jaydeep is part of BIS advisory committee for sanitary pads by Govt. of India which came up with new revised BIS standard for pads after 30 years in India in last Dec, 2019 after more than 2 years of deliberations. Aakar is the only small manufacturer of pads to be part of this committee along-with industry giants like P&G, J&J. I am happy to share that our compostable testing certificate as per IS/ISO-17088 was taken as reference in the committee and now in new BIS it is clearly stated that any product which claims to be compostable, biodegradable need to certify it as per IS/ISO-17088 from Govt. recognised labs. Although, unfortunately BIS is still not compulsory in India and many companies are taking advantages of it and cheating consumers by fake biodegradable, compostable products. Currently we have both ultra-thin & fluffy versions pads available for village consumers as per their choice, our experience says women in villages still like fluffy pads but slowly they are moving towards ultra-thin versions. Our Urban pads were ready after hundreds of user trials/feedback from urban consumers for a year but couldn't start selling because of funding issues (ethical, social companies don't get funding in India). But, we have managed some funds internally and now planned to start selling in Amazon and few other online channels from next month along-with our own pads website ( www.anandilife.com ). We hope to scale our sales in subscription & organised offline retail model as we raise equity funding. 

Let me know if you need any information in this regard.

with regards
Sharmila
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  • lucasdengel
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear Sharmila,

thanks for your elaborate answers, in particular on the raw materials of the pads, which was the first part of my inquiry. However, this was not meant to question the raw materials or their hygiene. The second part of my inquiry was in reference to convincing educated women of the use of the pads, and this refers a) to comfort and convenience of the user and b) to the users’ mindset in regard to hygiene.

As regards a) I would like to hear the users’ voices, in particular urban educated women. From your mail I conclude that till date there can only be very few. Only now you intend to approach the urban market. - I believe that these women and the celebrities appealing in ads to these users will set the trend. 

As regards b) in my understanding the hygiene of a pad has to be the same as the hygiene of underwear; and there is no need to talk about sterility i.e. medical-surgical hygiene. (In the case of tampons – and the cup – these concerns change, but unfortunately even sterile gadgets introduced into the vagina will change or impact a healthy microbiome – which is not the topic of this discussion.) When we buy underwear, we wear it as it comes from a shop; subsequently we wash it, e.g. at 60 degrees Celsius in a washing machine. Why would there be different concerns and standards for the hygiene of disposable pads – or even for washable pads or for washable nappies?
(I admit that I have not yet studied the standards that you refer to in your mail; the delay of implementing hygiene standards in India might provide great opportunity not to overdo and introduce unnecessary benchmarks.)

It is clear and obvious to me that addition of sanitizers and disinfectants can only be harmful to the user; no need to elaborate on this. But this is unlikely to be obvious to the above-said “educated”, hence my question on your marketing-speak. Hence question a). 

Could you please respond to a) and to b)?
Please understand that I am not scrutinizing Anandi pads insearch of imperfections. In all matters of hygiene & sanitation (and many other fields of life) I'd rather be looking for simple and neat solutions, as low-tech, as rational and as user-friendly as possible – the Anandi pads would be one of those solutions.

Thank you very much, Lucas
Dr. Lucas Dengel
Executive
EcoPro
Aurosarjan Complex, Auroshilpam
Auroville - 605101, India
website EcoPro: www.ecopro.in
personal e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • davmax
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Great contribution Shamila. I was notified of your posts and thought they were part of the thread I started. 
https://forum.susana.org/forum/categories/231-menstrual-cups/23252-compostable-sanitary-pads-a-green-solution-in-menstrual-hygiene

You have had some really good responses and you have responded well. Hopefully this will generate increasing action to implement the use of compostable pads.
Re-usable washable pads are still being promoted by some. I see caring middle class western women working away to produce these as an economic solution for the poor. Indeed it is, however my concern that it is not the right solution in that water is increasingly scarce in poor regions and the issues of hygiene, taboos and privacy arise. All issues simply overcome in the more affluent western societies. Disposable and compostable menstrual pads at low cost or even free will resolve all the issues for the poor.
 Anandi pad produced by Aakar Innovations is a welcomed product, well tested in India and now spreading to other nations with great need such as Africa and Nepal. Congratulations to Jaydeep and the whole team.
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  • SharmilaC
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear David,

Thanks a lot for your kind response. We look forward to support from you and many other working in the development sector to take our solution to millions of women & girls in need across the globe.

with regards
Sharmila
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  • SharmilaC
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear Lucas,

[font=Montserrat, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Thanks for your revert, as stated in my last response we never say we are perfect and always encourage feedback, critics, suggestion about our solution with scientific, logical thoughts. Please find answers to your queries below: 

a) to comfort and convenience of the user- We have sold more than 10 million pads till date, which is kind of evidence of acceptance of our products among the consumers. But there is always scope to make it better and our research team is engaged in it to improve quality keeping the cost in mind as well as introduce indigenous commercially viable materials to make pads. We also work with global giants in the hygiene raw materials industry with their R&D team & pushing them to provide sustainable materials which looks after human health along with our mother nature. 

b) to the users’ mindset in regard to hygiene- Our Social NPO arm works for education and awareness and provides unbiased, scientific evidence based information without touching the myths & taboos connected to religion & culture of people. In marketing terms changing consumer mindset is the hardest thing to do, but for us we work to make the world a better place to live for current & future generations and sustainable solutions with circular economy approach is the way forward for us. Infact Corona days have reminded us this as a red alert. All of you are also aware that well educated people are going back to old days to look for natural, organic & sustainable products and very well understand that it will need them to change their mindset and look at sustainable solution with a fresh thought process. But this doesn't mean that they have to compromise of basic quality & comfort while using the products. Now, Urban people look for certain convenience which is many ways different from a rural consumer and they are also ready to pay extra for it. So, when we were approached by urban consumers around 4 years back who want to use our product we 1st gave them same product which we make for village consumers to understand their feedback, expectations from our product. This only led us to make ultrathin pads, introduce BioSAP, organic cotton top layer, 3-fold individually wrapped pads, disposal bags, different packaging etc. So, in a way we have co-created our urban product as per urban users quality, comfort, convenience expectations. [/font]

As regards a) I would like to hear the users’ voices, in particular urban educated women. From your mail I conclude that till date there can only be very few. Only now you intend to approach the urban market. - I believe that these women and the celebrities appealing in ads to these users will set the trend. - As mentioned earlier we intended to introduce our product in urban market around 4 years back and worked hard make it a product which will match or overcome urban consumer expectations. [font=Montserrat, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]We have even tested our product by global consumers from USA, Mexico, UK, Germany,Australia, China and many others countries. But, I will again reiterate, we never say our products are perfect and we always look for critical feedback to improve our products. [/font]

As regards b) in my understanding the hygiene of a pad has to be the same as the hygiene of underwear; and there is no need to talk about sterility i.e. medical-surgical hygiene. (In the case of tampons – and the cup – these concerns change, but unfortunately even sterile gadgets introduced into the vagina will change or impact a healthy microbiome – which is not the topic of this discussion.) When we buy underwear, we wear it as it comes from a shop; subsequently we wash it, e.g. at 60 degrees Celsius in a washing machine. Why would there be different concerns and standards for the hygiene of disposable pads – or even for washable pads or for washable nappies?
(I admit that I have not yet studied the standards that you refer to in your mail; the delay of implementing hygiene standards in India might provide great opportunity not to overdo and introduce unnecessary benchmarks.)
- I feel standard are needed not for just for hygiene parameters but more from stopping producers to use of harmful materials, and making fake claims & cheating, fooling consumers. I can give a long list of products sold in Indian market, specially in online markets like Amazon, Nykaa etc. where companies are claiming for biodegradable, compostable, organic, green pads but those are almost same as other commercials pads of J&J and P&G sales, infact those are sold in 2-3 times price of J&J and P&G products and urban consumers are happily buying it without knowing they are being cheated badly. Same way many multinationals claims that their products can be used for 10-12 hours where basic science & hygiene says that using pads or tampons beyond 4-6 hours could be really harmful for their body. We fought about these in BIS committee with the multinationals to put the limited hours use in the packaging compulsory. For cloth pads, nappies I feel till the level one is making, selling them socially one should definitely be away from the Standards but there are companies who sell them at a price from 200-800 INR per cloth-pad and also claims for anti-bacterial nature, long hours of use, 5 years of use- for them there should be standard otherwise many of them start fooling people with un-scientific, un-hygienic features & make money. Consumers trust will be lost from sustainable products if they are cheated this way for a longer period of time and no action being taken by anyone. So, standards are important with some riders. Also, very important part is standards should be regularise too, unless it will make zero impact. Unfortunately in India BIS for pads is not compulsory and we are fighting for it to make it compulsory for commercial products. 

Let me know if you have any further queries.

[font=Montserrat, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]with regards
[/font]Sharmila
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  • canaday
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Re: Compostable sanitary pads: a green solution in menstrual hygiene?

Dear Sharmila,

Thanks for your detailed responses and, again, congratulations on your successes.

About the compostable diapers, I would like to suggest that reusable plastic pants could be used outside of them and thus make their production a bit simpler.

If you should ever want to expand to South America, the town of Puyo, Ecuador, where I live, may be a good place to start, as there are a lot of sugar cane fields, thus lots of begasse, and many hard-working under-employed indigenous women. (We distribute menstrual cups here and their acceptance has been lower than we had expected.)

Unfortunately, your webpage did not open for me, although I did find excellent videos on Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaqXTcnP8hI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wja6U0eUdMY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40C32F_K4eE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZE26ne5BNY

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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