New Publication on Menstrual Waste Incinerators


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  • Chaiwe
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Re: New Publication on Menstrual Waste Incinerators

Dear Alison, 

Thank you for sharing the publication and congratulations on the amazing work done on this important topic. Timely share too as we approach the MH Day commemorations on 28th May. The outcomes of your study are much appreciated as they are solution driven. Its great to see that innovations to handle MH waste are notably growing.

Adding this amazing graphic I extracted as a good visual reference: 

I did a study some years ago looking at several indicators related to MHM. One of the indicators focused on waste disposal. Allow me to share some of the extracts of my findings below that inform the subject from  the points of view of an informal settlement in Zambia.

  • The study looked at four WASH variables that are hypothesized to have an effect on menstrual hygiene management: the availability of water, latrines, bath shelters and waste disposal facilities. Four additional variables (education level, income level, age and marital status) were included in the model as other possible determinants, in order to isolate the effects of the WASH variables on menstrual hygiene management.
  • For the few that could afford disposable napkins, which for the average woman residing in an informal settlement are quite expensive, safe disposal becomes a problem due to inadequate waste disposal systems (Zambia Ministry of Local Government and Housing, 2007).
  • Menstrual materials have been known to be a major source of sewer blockages in areas with sewer systems. This facilitated for the provision of sanitary bins in areas with flushable toilets and messages were disseminated discouraging the practice of dumping sanitary napkins in the toilet. However, interventions facilitating the safe disposal of used menstrual materials are not implemented in areas without sewer systems. No messages are provided to women who use sanitary towels on the safe disposal of these materials for the safety of the environment. There is little information on interactions of menstrual waste on the environment in areas with non‐piped sanitation systems.
  • The majority of respondents (85.9%) disposed of menstrual material in the pit latrine. Other but less common ways of disposal were burning (7.7%) and wash and re-use (4.9%).
  • The women complained of not having a well-developed waste disposal system for used menstrual material. The only waste disposal site in the area is at the market, which in most cases is too far to access and is usually overflowing with uncollected garbage. Women undergoing menstruation usually opted to dispose of this waste in latrines, which however is not a best practice as latrines over time usually fill up with non-biodegradable menstrual material. It is also commonplace in Linda compound to find used menstrual material discarded in drainage systems or by the road side and in garbage dumps. The women felt that this was shameful and very unsanitary as children normally play around in bumps picking up discarded containers to use as toys. The common cultural myth expressed by the women was that children should not have any contact or access to used menstrual material as this results in acute coughing/asthma.

Looking forward to taking this conversation further with you and others on how to grow awareness and interventions on the subject. 

SuSanA Forum Moderator
Skat Foundation (With financial support by GIZ and SIRWASH up to November 2023)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
Emails: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter: @ChaiweSanderse

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  • alisonweber
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New Publication on Menstrual Waste Incinerators

Dear Colleagues,

I am excited to share, on behalf of myself and my co-authors, a new publication discussing menstrual waste incinerators (linked below). This publication reviews the current landscape of incinerators marketed for menstrual waste, including strengths and opportunities for future development. We conclude with recommendations for policy and practice, spanning a broad range of stakeholders. We welcome any feedback on this publication as we continue to highlight the importance of menstral product disposal.

Thank you,
Ali Weber
Biomass Controls PBC
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