Menstrual Waste Management in India

India is a country of 1.35 billion people and it’s pretty obvious to guess the huge quantity of waste or garbage it generates. Well, if you are unable to guess that, you should know that more than 450 grams of waste is produced by an average Indian daily. Now if you multiply that number with the population of our country; that will become a mammoth figure and will definitely give goose-bumps to an environment lover. But today we are going to discuss about that type of waste whose improper management and disposal can lead to a lot of dangerous results for the society. We are talking about the menstrual waste. In this post, we will talk about the menstrual waste generation and its management in India.

1.   What is menstrual waste?

Menstrual waste consists of the used menstrual hygiene products which are soiled with blood and human tissues. These usually include cloth, sanitary pads or other material used for maintaining the menstrual hygiene. Menstrual waste material is a type of waste which should not be disposed of in open at all, as it may result into some serious infections and other diseases in society as well as an embarrassing scene to the society.
In India, 12.3 billion disposable napkins are produced which are to be taken care of, and this quantity comes from only 36% of the total menstruating women in India. Other menstrual hygiene products which are used by the remaining 64% also needs separate attention. That’s why menstrual waste disposal has become a big problem in the country. The main reason is the type of plastic which is used in the disposable sanitary napkins as it is non-biodegradable. This increases the already existing health and environmental issues of the country. Moreover, the poor waste management practices in the rural and backward area of the country increases the problem to an unimaginable level.

2.   How to tackle the problem

According to the SWM Rules, menstrual waste materials should be incinerated, microwaved or autoclaved as these are the best ways to deal with such waste. Specially designed incinerators are being used by many municipality organizations for dealing with different types of waste materials collected by them. For example, the issue of menstrual waste management has led to the adoption of sanitary napkin incinerator.

There are many waste-to-energy incinerator technologies available in the market which could be used to enhance the power capacity in addition to deal with such waste. Autoclaving is another technology which could be used in order to deal with the menstrual waste. This technology uses the power of high-pressured steam to reduce the solid mass of the waste material. Microwaving is also a waste management method which disinfects the waste material with the use of moist heat generated through the microwave technology. But if we consider the capacity of these methods to reduce the overall impact of the waste and their ease of operation, then incineration comes as the most effective one. The main reason is the ability of the incinerators to convert the waste into an ash material by reducing their mass by 95 to 96 percent. It makes the job much easier for the responsible authorities. Nowadays, along with sanitary napkin incinerator, diaper waste incinerator is also being used by many municipalities in order to reduce the effect of such used materials on the environment up to its minimum level. We are doing a lot, but still we have to work a lot in this area if we want to have a safe future and society for our children to live.

There is nothing much that can be done about menstruation, as it is a natural body activity, but management of the menstrual waste material needs some serious collective attention by all of us.


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