New Delhi: About 14 kg of non-biodegradable waste is generated in a lifetime by a woman if she uses commercially manufactured disposable sanitary pads while the number stands at 0.06 kg for menstrual cups, according to a new report. The report ‘Why India Needs to Move Beyond Sanitary Pads’ by NGO ARTH (Action Research and Training for Health) also stated that total non-biodegradable waste generated from plastic and polymers used in menstrual products can be reduced by 99 per cent by use of menstrual cups.
The conclusion has been drawn based on some standard assumptions regarding women’s rate of use of either of the three modern menstrual hygiene products — the commonly used conventional disposable sanitary pads, conventional tampons and menstrual cups, the report said.
It added that calculations are based on the total waste and non-biodegradable component generated by a single user through her lifetime. The report stated,
We have assumed 12 menstrual cycles per year and 30 years of menses after excluding periods of amenorrhoea due to pregnancy and other causes, and have accurately weighed sample product options available in the Indian market to arrive at mean weight. We have consulted references to calculate the proportion of each product (excluding packaging), that is non biodegradable
The report was launched by eminent scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.
Quoting the report, Swaminathan said it estimates that a woman generates around 14.1 kg of non-biodegradable waste in a lifetime if she uses commercially manufactured disposable sanitary pads.
On the other hand, if a woman uses menstrual cups she will generate 0.06 kg of non-biodegradable waste in her lifetime, according to the report “Menstrual cups are practical, hygienic, and cost-effective. More and more women need to know about them and myths around their use need to be busted,” Swaminathan said according to a statement issued by ARTH.
Executive director of the Population Foundation of India, Poonam Muttreja, said the advantage of menstrual cups is that it offers longer duration of menstrual hygiene apart from being cost-effective.
However, it is important to undertake communication campaigns with communities that they support the use of menstrual cups. Evidence shows that women who transitioned from locally made cloth pads to cups experienced high levels of satisfaction. she said,
Promoting cups as a method of menstrual hygiene management along with other options like pads and tampons will offer choice to women and let them choose a method that they prefer to use
The ARTH report stated that pads are the most used method as these have been widely promoted by the corporate sector and distributed free or at subsidised rates by the government.
It noted that pads have 49 per cent polymers and disposal of used pads remains a problem. Only two Indian cities — Pune and Bengaluru — have menstrual waste separation during routine garbage collection, the report stated.
The recommended methods for treating and disposing used pads include use of incinerators, deep burial, composting and pit-burning. However, not doing this can lead to negative health and environmental impacts, it stated.
The report said that tampons, with 10 per cent non-biodegradable content, are not reusable.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.