I have been looking at this pressing issue since I passed out my Masters. It took me 13 years to write about this issue, better late than never……
In the market review, I found that the Global sanitary napkin disposing machine market is dominated by Ontrack Enterprises, Glolife Care Equipments Pvt Ltd, Global Engi-Tech, Eva Traders, E. R. Ventures, Bionics Scientific, Royal Tech Engineering, all Indian companies! Amazing isn’t it?
American Specialties, Inc., Golden Group International from the USA, Rentokil Initial plc from the UK, TerraCyclic International Ltd from New Zealand were also mentioned as global players in the market report.
Sanitation workers and rag-pickers are the sufferers of this un-managed wastes, often picking up the paper wrapped bundles, dealing with the hurdle of unblocking the sewage system at times must dive into the sewage pits to unclog the pipes. This is the time to rise and initiate the action rather than opting for long-pending petitions.
Scientific world has precisely noted their concern about seriousness of crisis, both in terms of environment and health. Can we come together and help to prevent such a scenario?
Thinking about the solution leads me to the following potential active society members who can make their positive contributions in mitigating the problem.
Consumer Acceptance and Awareness-
This is the main goal of this entire exercise. The Informed Product Choice and Disposal document is having all the information regarding product types their usage advantages and disadvantages. Reading this information would be beneficial, which, I appeal to every woman individual visiting this blog.
- 45% use routine methods of dustbin disposal, 23% throw away in open spaces, drains, rivers, wells, lakes, roadside, 15% dispose of by burning, 25% burry, 9% throw in toilets (flushing or pit latrine), according to document. What happens to it next?
While talking about the solution to the problem, most of them are unaware of the current available disposal options. I received many views stating that this issue is very personal.
According to me, we should revisit the concept of ‘PERSONAL’ in this particular problem. How can this issue be ‘personal’ when it is having tremendous socio-ecological and environmental impact? How can this issue be personal to discuss when we watch ‘ink stained’ TV commercial in each break, and watch along with all family members together? I am not at all hesitating in saying that this issue is ‘NATIONAL’ and can be even discussed at ‘GLOBAL’ level at some point of time.
In 2017 there was nice article in ‘ The Logical Indian’ which mentions few active organizations working in the space, Code Red, A period of sharing, Green The Red, Shomota, EcoFemme, UGER, The Red Cycle, Haiku, Orikalankini. There are a lot of ongoing efforts done by many such organizations for education and awareness but the enforcement is still a major issue.
- Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI) has collected a lot of information about the total burden. India has 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins to take care of every year, the majority of which are not biodegradable/compostable.
- According to the joint report by Water Aid India and the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India, it could take up to 800 years to decompose a single sanitary napkin, depending on the material used to manufacture. You can easily imagine the burdon!
Manufactures- The Solution Providers
Now this is the most important part of the post. These companies are in a position to solve this crisis offering their unique innovative solutions. In the scenario where track record on consumer funded environmental initiatives is not encouraging, their efforts to address the situation are quite commendable. In this section, I have tried to landscape their existing product portfolio.
(Note for manufacturers – Please contact me if you have some different views especially regarding innovation part, as I am not the technical product expert, there is good chance to miss out something. I will be happy to incorporate changes and rearrange the things.)
There are other players also like Sanmak India, Bharati Sales, ELTECH, Nachiket Engineering Private Limited, Pragati Enterprises, Elevate Info System, Microteknik, Bioline Technologies, and Hot springs. I have tried to include maximum names that I could. Trade India, Exporters India, India Mart, also have product options available on their websites if anyone is left out.
There are a lot of initiatives taken with no-profit no-loss one of them was taken by Pune based scientists for pollution free incinerator.
Dr. Sadhana Rayalu , Cheif Scientist CSIR-NEERI is also working in this area. They are working on the project based on disposal waste generated out of napkins and diapers, and have developed a centralized treatment option.
I thought, if the solution is provided at the housing society level will make more impact and change the situation in Urban areas. I tried to reach to some builders from urban, semi-urban, and rural areas to get their opinions. I could get few nice opinions but obviously big construction groups are currently out my reach!
Mr. Ameya Bhave, Owner Bhave Builders, Thane expressed very insightful views. He said, ” I am currently unaware of the the available technology solutions. If size and function is good then the technology incorporation would be good option. Branding this idea as amenity will take some time considering current Indian mentality which is neutral towards adapting new solutions”. He further adds that ” As a construction company, we also have to think about the manpower required for handling the ashes and their concerns regarding this, which is bit tricky “
While further discussing the problem he adds that, ” My friends working in TMC also discuss this issue and face tremendous clogging problems.”
In addition to the Urban Area, I wanted to collect feedback from Semi Urban and Rural area.
Mr. V. G. Patki, Owner Patki-Joshi Engineers and Contractors Pvt. Ltd, said ” If the size and price are marched according to our preferences we will be positively thinking about its installation in our future projects.
Having 20 years of the experience in this field he further added that, “We also need to think about the proper installation site, as we might face significant problems from stray dogs.”
My uncle Mr. Mahesh Karambelkar, who has experience especially in semi urban and rural areas also positive about the solution. He said, ” There is need of such solutions where drainage system itself is a challenging situation. These materials add major clogging problems. I will be thinking positively about this. We need information about more such solutions”
Interior designers and Architects
I was discussing this issue with some of the professional interior designers and most of them were unaware of the availability of such existing solutions.
Mr. Siddharth Ghate, Owner, Legacy Designers, has altogether different views, after working more than a decade in the interior industry he perfectly pointed out few things, most crucial was the hygiene awareness.
“Unfortunately, that still depends on the consumer mentality because they might really like the concept or they might be hesitant to discuss, spending money on a solution might not be a big issue”
Regarding the consumer acceptance part he said ” It might be considered too personal to discuss the issue of sanitary disposal with a customer.”
From professional point of view he further added “As designers we take utmost precaution to offer the best solutions. We will be happy to incorporate this technology in project proposals if size, space, aesthetics, function, electricity requirements, safety, noise, residual things like the smell are addressed properly.”
Ms. Ashwini Kodolikar, Partner, Culturals Interior Designers, said ” I was unaware of the solution possibility, but I am ready to incorporate in my ongoing project”.
Having 25 years of experience, she further added that, ” Being a lady interior designer might give added advantage of connecting with client. Loading option should be either front load or top load and should have slit like post box. We can easily integrate the design.” According to her hotel management would be very positive about this solution.
In addition to interior designers I received nice informed response from an experienced architect.
Ar. Snehal Tiware having practice for last 14 years in the field of architectural design said, “In this journey I experienced many positive points regarding hygiene awareness. Now a days It’s mandatory for institutional projects. As an architect we are not only dealing with the design but also overall system running for that project which is equally important, and waste disposal is the part of it. We need to think for sanitary pads disposal. If good product is solving this issue smartly, will always be acceptable, which will definitely help our society.”
Media & Influencers –
I wanted to find out opinion from few media influencers whether they can take this issue on priority and start a public awareness campaign? In India, this is the most proactive way for reaching common people.
Scientific Opinion and Advice
Being a microbiologist I am worried about the blood-borne pathogens and their exposure impact on sanitation workers, diseases and infections they might be suffering from. This issue is never discussed and nobody will probably think of studying it.
Prof. Dr. Manimekalai is doing research on issues related to women’s health for past 31 years and has a lot to share few of the critical points are as follows.
- Incinerators for the moment are helping dispose of sanitary napkins, but according to environmental policy should not be burnt either manual or by machine.
- However, incinerators are promoted in the institutions, where it is perceived that it takes care of the disposal, eg. colleges undergoing NAAC accreditation.
- In absence of such installations there is tendency to flush or leave open in corners which is highly unclean and susceptible to diseases.
She adds, ” I am currently doing research on sanitation for women at work places integrating menstrual hygiene needs. To my disappointment there are public toilets which have installed electronic incinerators fixed as an exclusive sanitation instrument, but not used to its capacity either because not adequate visitors disposing or not aware how to use it. So for the moment incinerators in the institutions are fine provided it is used and maintained.”
Her Advice to each of the stakeholder mentioned above
- Manufacturers need to work on after sales service which is currently poor. Demonstrations should be arranged after the installations.
- Builder Associations should be more aware of the situation and transfer women friendly components in their projects.
- Media and Influencers have great role to play. Socially they have to commit and disseminate the scientific disposal methods to community
- Interior designers, supervisors, architects, civil society organisations, and co-operative societies all should break the silence over menstrual hygiene management.
To conclude this
Consumers must think about the betterment of society opting for the right solutions for the right cause and adapt ecologically sustainable solutions. If this in inevitable part of life cycle its our duty to come forward and find out solutions, isn’t it? Can we not spend few minutes of our time learning how to use the machine properly instead of recipes, arts and crafts?
Co-Operative societies can undergo installation right away!
Manufacturers, can think over points mentioned by interior designers, architects, builders, and scientific advice, there is lot of scope for improvement!
Interior designers and Architects, can keep looking up the best solutions according to their project preferences!
Builders, can proactively think about providing such solutions while designing the construction project. Integrating such solutions in common amenities builders can ensure “eco-friendly”, ” hygienic environment”!
The Government can make this as a mandatory amenity in RERA guidelines, and let the housing societies undergo mandatory installations. In 2018 Supreme Court sets an example on Menstrual Waste, and has taken the initiative to install sanitary napkin incinerators on-premises. Unfortunately, nobody followed the suit!
I am just trying to bring all of these stakeholders on one platform, hope this initiates the thought process which leads to positive changes.
I leave this blog post open for active discussions and suggestions, I can really go on writing!
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