“Only 12 per cent of the 355 million women of menstruating age in India can afford disposable sanitary napkins. But, conservatively, these 42.6 million women will throw 21.3 billion sanitary napkins into a landfill in their lives.”
Krutika cannot wait to reach home after school today. She is menstruating and going through the monthly ordeal of stomach pains, bloody pads that must be wrapped in a newspaper and thrown in a dustbin with all other types of dry waste.
This is just one student in one school, but Krutika can be any of us.
While she is disgusted at having to handle a blood-soaked sanitary napkin while disposing of it, another person has to open the wrapped pad a few hours later, manually separating it from other waste and throwing it in a heap of garbage that largely consists of medical waste and hundreds of such soiled napkins.
Not only are these manual labourers handling filthy pads, but they are also exposing themselves to pathogens and micro-organisms, while at risk of anything between severe stomach cramps to tetanus, hepatitis and HIV!
As toxic and harmful as it is to use and dispose of non-biodegradable sanitary napkins, what can we do? They are a necessity during periods, after all.
Addressing the issues of disposable sanitary napkins from the moment they need to be disposed of to minimising their effects on the environment, InnovoSoft Technologies bring to you a solution that can be installed anywhere–from schools to houses!
Speaking to The Better India, NR Nitheesh, a co-founder of InnovoSoft, said, “There is one category of waste that makes everybody queasy. It is the disposal of our sanitary waste, especially used feminine hygiene products and used diapers. With the addition of blood, used disposables become dangerous for a city corporation. They cannot be humanly handled by garbage collectors as they contain a cocktail of materials including cotton, a super-absorbent polymer, and a whole lot of plastic…”
To counter this, they have introduced “ArogyaVidya Bharat” – an initiative for hygienic India. This campaign is exclusively on creating awareness among girls, ensuring access to hygienic products and disposal options.
Under this campaign, they installed a “napkin destroyer” machine–an incinerator that disposes of the hazardous pads, instead of taking them to the landfills.
Their light-weight incinerators are as big as the hand dryers installed in public toilets, increasing their utility anywhere from schools to malls and public toilets.
How does it work?
The Incinerator burns the sanitary napkins and reduces them into micro ash, which is collected in the inbuilt ash-tray. There is also a 2-inch emission outlet at the top of the incinerator for pushing out the fumes developed during the incineration.
Nitheesh says, “Our machines are easy to operate and maintain; they work automatically and destroy sanitary napkins, both scientifically and hygienically. The machine is provided with an auto cut-off function, which will turn it off automatically after incineration of the napkins.”
What’s more, the designers have modified their machine so it can be used in homes too.
We easily use at least 10-12 pads every month if that’s the only menstrual hygiene product you use. According to a report by The Hindu, “Only 12 per cent of the 355 million women of menstruating age in India can afford disposable sanitary napkins. But, conservatively, these 42.6 million women will throw 21.3 billion sanitary napkins into a landfill in their lives.”
Alternately, the incinerator scientifically disposes your napkins and reduces their burden on the environment. Nitheesh shares, “While designing the machine for the household purpose, we have taken utmost care for Low Power Consumption and quick burning process. Our machine consumes 1.2 to 1.5 Ampere and takes 3-5 minutes for converting the napkin into ashes and fumes.”
While Nitheesh, a mechanical engineer, is the head of innovation, Ms Sindhu Reddy, his co-founder, brings software to the table. Mydhili G helps them take the initiative to various parts of the country.
“Sindhu basically wanted to do more for our society, that’s how she has identified this issue on the usage and disposal of sanitary napkins; she wanted me to work on finding a solution for the proper disposal of used sanitary napkins, and that’s how we came together to succeed,” Nitheesh said.
They also organise awareness programmes in schools and colleges, so that young girls understand why it is important to look after the proper disposal of their menstrual hygiene products.
InnovoSoft is currently active in various parts of Kerala as well as Kolhapur and Mumbai in Maharashtra, with a team that is enthusiastically covering more schools every day, installing the napkin destroyer that will reduce the woes of the user, the manual labourer and the planet!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)