Environment-friendly Sanitary Pads: Work in Progress

Indore: While many women in rural India still struggle to maintain hygiene during menstruation period, the challenge faced by women in urban areas is proper disposal of used sanitary pads. Working on both the issues, social organisations have come up with different ways of management from menstrual cups to compostable pads.

Developing one such idea, social entrepreneur Jaydeep Mandal shared story of making compostable pads while interacting with mediapersons at Manpasand garden. The event was organised by local NGO Jwala on Wednesday. His journey of starting Aakar Innovation that developed Anandi pads began with meeting Arunachalam Muruganatham (the inspiration behind Bollywood movie Padman). Though unlike him, he patented his machine developing compostable pads, he decided to work on similar idea promoting the use of sanitary pads and employing women in the task.

“I had an opportunity to work on the machine developed by Murganathan in the unit set up in a village in Uttrakhand,” he said. Based on his learning, Mandal realised the need for a new method and business model to address the issue of menstrual hygiene. “I visited many entrepreneurs who had developed low-cost sanitary pads. That helped me to understand the process of manufacturing,” he said. His start-up was incubated at Centre for Innovation, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad.

The challenge About 336 million girls and women undergo menstruation in India, which means approximately 121 million of them use disposable sanitary napkins. This means, as pointed out by the Clean India journal, there are 432 million pads generated annually in India, resulting in 9,000 tonnes of sanitary waste.

Decomposing, other problems • Plastic base takes hundreds of years to decompose • Burning them produces toxic fumes of dioxine and phuron • Cloth based products cause wastage of water in repetitive washing. Also, women complain of staining and discomfort. • Menstrual cups are not everyone’s cup of tea especially teenagers. Using natural fibres Claiming to produce compostable pads, several organisations are using jute, banana fibre and water hyacinth to make pads. Aakar is one of them, which hopes to provide solution to the challenge – that is maintaining menstrual hygiene and protecting environment.

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