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Problem

Do you think you are irresponsibly and ignorantly dumping your sanitary waste at the cost of human health and their dignity?

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I

The recent report released by the Government of India's environmental think tank Centre for Science and Environment estimates that India’s consolidated daily generation of sanitary pads and baby diaper waste, is approximately 925 tonnes, which accounts for 0.65 per cent of total solid waste.

According to the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI), 336 million girls and women of reproductive age in India use about 1 billion sanitary pads per month, or 12.3 billion sanitary pads annually.Of this, 28% is thrown along with other domestic waste, 26% is dumped in the open, 23% gets buried, 15% is burnt in the open, and 8% is thrown in toilets.

 

This endangers our environment and the health of sanitary workers.While we see the potential environmental harm by improper disposal, we cannot neglect the various people involved in the waste-disposal chain. These are the workers who segregate your waste, the rag-pickers who collect your waste from dumping grounds, and other people involved in the process.When these rag-pickers have to sort through openly disposed sanitary pads, we unknowingly expose them to a deluge of germs that can cause severe infections. Sometimes, it can even be fatal.thousands of ragpickers face the threat of allergy, skin rashes, tuberculosis and several other infections, after coming in contact with used sanitary napkins and diapers.

Uncovered sanitary pads cause bacteria to multiply. It exposes them to multiple deadly pathogens.

According to the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), sanitary pads and diapers are included in the definition of dry waste in the SWM Rules, 2016.As per this rule, every waste generator must collect and segregate all waste into three categories: biodegradable, non-biodegradable, and domestic hazardous waste.

Waste disposal and its management are colossal problems today.However, we haven't been successful in implementing an adequate mechanism to dispose of this waste.Due to unorganised sanitary waste management in cities and villages, poor source segregation, and inadequate collection, transportation, and disposal networks, most sanitary waste ends up in landfills mixed with solid waste or dumped openly, posing significant health and environmental hazards.

 

Within the current policy framework, the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, state that any sanitary product needs to be wrapped properly in newspaper or the sanitary bag and clearly marked.This simple step goes a long way! These wrapped products are easily identified by the rag-pickers and handled accordingly.

What we have been observing is that the sanitary waste is mostly unwrapped at disposal regardless of the living space. Also, hardly any sanitary waste is marked even at the residential complexes by the households, which has better education and awareness levels than urban slums.The urban slums definitely have a higher percentage of unwrapped sanitary pads. The waste collector separates this waste from other household waste with bare hands, making them more susceptible to many infections and diseases.

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Challenge of menstrual waste                     disposal