CHENNAI: While menstruation is an inconvenience and often painful, the disposal of used sanitary napkins that’s environment friendly is a challenge. Plastic used in disposable sanitary napkins is non-biodegradable and leads to several health issues and environmental hazards.
People throw away sanitary napkins without packing it properly and often mix it with domestic waste.
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has urged the public to separate sanitary napkins and diapers and dispose them in separate biodegradable covers. The civic body authorities have been creating awareness about this initiative across the city, and those who fail to dispose of it properly will be fined heavily.
The public is required to segregate the waste at source into biodegradable, non-biodegradable and hazardous household waste and hand it over to conservancy workers during the door-to-door collection every day. To upscale solid waste management in the city, a new system will be carried out by the authorities.
N Mahesan, chief engineer (solid waste management), GCC, stated, “Usually, residents dump used sanitary napkins and diapers along with general waste. Now, they’re advised to wrap it in leak proof cover which comes along with the pack, and then dispose through battery-operated vehicles. Already, there are green and blue bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. Now, there’d be red bins in the garbage collection vehicle for sanitary napkins.”
The waste collected in this way will be taken to the incinerator plants located at Kodungaiyur and Manali. The official mentioned that even after awareness, if the system was not followed, penalty will be imposed. Animators of each zone in the city will create awareness about handling sanitary napkin and diaper waste. “The main reason for the system is that sanitary workers find it difficult to segregate the used pads. Also, schools, colleges, and institutes are advised to install napkin incinerators in the campus, which is also environment friendly,” added Mahesan.
The system is welcomed by the city’s denizens because people don’t dispose of sanitary napkins and diapers properly. Many times, it end up littering the road. “Stray cattle graze near the garbage and pull out the plastic waste on the streets. Dogs make the situation worse. And sanitary workers are the most affected by this, as they’re responsible for clearing the mess,” said M Balakrishnan, a resident of Tansi Nagar, Velachery.
He added that it was a much-needed initiative and would help reduce the harmful environmental impact. “Unless there’s strict regulation imposed by the local body authorities, people would be lethargic about it,” pointed out Balakrishnan.
While some women wrap it in plastic or paper and throw it along with domestic garbage, some flush them down the toilet. V Pavithra, an IT professional said, “Sanitary napkins itself is a home of diseases, but bad disposal or reuse makes it worse. The improper disposal of napkins poses a risk of infection more than being an environmental hazard as it already is.”
Indian women and girls in the urban milieu have better access to feminine hygiene products now more than ever and with that, the requirement for responsible disposal of waste is now being actively taken up by the Chennai Corporation.
“Compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, to deal with waste like sanitary pads, diapers, condoms etc will check the spread of infectious diseases and help reduce the burden on the burgeoning landfills,” stated Deepika Murali, an advocate.
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