How to dispose of Sanitary Pads?

Sanitary pads or sanitary napkins are an essential part of menstrual health for many women, especially in low and middle-income countries. However, proper disposal has often been an issue that is not readily discussed. 

Disposing of a used sanitary pad in the developing world is fairly simple, and the process is clearly defined. In developing nations, however, safe disposal is a serious issue.

This article will focus on how to safely dispose of a sanitary napkin as well as explain in depth the dangers of incorrectly disposing of these pads. 

How to dispose of sanitary pads?

The best way to dispose of sanitary pads is to roll them up and wrap them in tissue paper before throwing them out into the bin that is inside the toilet. These bins in most places are treated separately from other waste. These are sealed tightly and usually sent to incinerators for proper disposal. 

Make sure you learn whether the pads you are using are biodegradable or not. This information is available on the packaging. Biodegradable pads shouldn’t be wrapped in plastic. This halts the biodegradation process and the pads remain in landfills for a significant period. 

In some places in India, there are small-scale incinerators that can be bought. These machines are designed to incinerate pads. Single pads can be put in the machine. These pads are then burnt safely without the release of toxic gasses. 

The problem with improperly disposing of pads: 

Sanitary napkin disposal is mainly an issue in the developing world. Women’s menstrual health is a taboo, and stigma, in many parts of South Asia, and Africa. However, with the advent of widely available single-use menstrual pads, periods have become a more manageable issue for most girls and women.

The wide use of single-use pads has also given rise to a problem. And that is improper disposal. As I wrote before, menstruation is taboo in many parts of the world. This leads women to try to hide their pads instead of throwing them out in the bin. 

Many women flush them down the toilet, this leads to the pipes getting blocked. These pads are extremely absorbent and when wet, they multiply in size which leads to the pipes being clogged very quickly. These pads can also accumulate in the septic tanks, hindering the natural process of decomposition by the bacteria. 

Many sanitary napkins are made of biodegradable material, but these are often wrapped in plastic before being thrown out, this leads to these pads accumulating in the environment instead of decomposition. 

Some women believe that pads should be washed before being thrown out. This is a misconception that usually leads to more problems than solutions. These pads contain liquid absorbing material which increases in size when wet. These wet pads retain that moisture that makes it very difficult for incinerators to burn properly.  These pads then let out toxic gasses like dioxin.

What measures are taken to ensure proper disposal of pads:

Most municipalities are increasingly aware of the dangers of improper disposal of pads on the plumbing system, and workers who work to sort trash.

Workers can get very, very sick handling exposed sanitary napkins since they rarely wear gloves in countries like India. 

This is why most schools, offices, and other public places provide bins in the toilet to dispose of pads. 

Public awareness is raised over the importance of the safe disposal of sanitary napkins. Hopefully, these will minimize the issues regarding improper disposal.

 

 

Conclusion: 

Sanitary pads or sanitary napkins are an essential part of menstrual health for many women, especially in low and middle-income countries. However, proper disposal has often been an issue that is not readily discussed. 

Disposing of a used sanitary pad in the developing world is fairly simple, and the process is clearly defined. In developing nations, however, safe disposal is a serious issue.

This article focused on how to safely dispose of a sanitary napkin as well explained in depth the dangers of incorrectly disposing of these pads. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to dispose of Sanitary pads

How to dispose of sanitary pads at home? 

Simply wrap the pad in some tissue paper, then in the packaging, it comes with. Make sure the wrapping is secure so there is no leakage. Then simply throw it in the bin in the toilet. 

What bin do you put sanitary pads in? 

These pads are not recyclable, nor can they be composted. This means you can throw them in the trash bin. But make sure you have a separate trash bin for sanitary pads in the toilet. Sanitary pads should not be taken out of the bathroom and thrown into the trash bin in the kitchen or anywhere else. This leaves a lot of room for cross-contamination. 

Should I wash my used pad before disposal? 

No! Washing pads causes serious hygiene issues in your home. If you are not careful about the process, germs may remain in the toilet and make yourself or others vulnerable to infections. Moreover, wet sanitary pads cannot be incinerated properly, which means they let out toxic molecules like dioxin.

Are sanitary pads biodegradable? 

Yes, some of them are. This information is on the packaging. 

How long do biodegradable pads take to break down?

Approximately 12 months. Make sure you do not wrap them in plastic before disposal. Plastic would prevent it from degrading. 

Can I burn my used pads? 

Some places in India sell home incinerators that burn used pads. This is a safe way to dispose of used pads. Do keep in mind these pads should not be washed before incineration. Wet pads are often improperly burnt allowing toxic gasses to escape. 

References: 

  1. How to dispose of a used sanitary pad or a tampon?. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.menstrupedia.com/articles/girls/sanitary-dispose
  2. How to Dispose of Sanitary Pads. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.always.co.uk/en-gb/tips-and-advice-for-girls-and-parents/my-period/how-to-dispose-sanitary-pads/
  3. How to Dispose of Sanitary Pads: 10 Steps (with Pictures). (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.wikihow.com/Dispose-of-Sanitary-Pads
  4. Sanitary Napkins & the Environmental impact -Disposal of sanitary napkins. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://saraldesigns.in/sanitary-napkins-and-its-environmental-impact-part-1/
  5. Kaur, R., Kaur, K., & Kaur, R. (2018). Menstrual Hygiene, Management, and Waste Disposal: Practices and Challenges Faced by Girls/Women of Developing Countries. Journal Of Environmental And Public Health, 2018, 1-9. DOI: 10.1155/2018/1730964
  6. Ladies, be careful when you throw away the sanitary napkin. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/ladies-be-careful-when-you-throw-away-the-sanitary-napkin/story-YnbqET6IzriWOy1Y8rFS8N.html
  7. How to dispose of sanitary napkins. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://imbuenatural.com/blogs/blog/how-to-dispose-of-sanitary-napkins
  8. Jahan, F., Nuruzzaman, M., Sultana, F. et al. Piloting an acceptable and feasible menstrual hygiene products disposal system in urban and rural schools in Bangladesh. BMC Public Health 20, 1366 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09413-x
  9. Safe, Dignified and Inclusive Menstrual Waste Disposal in Public Schools. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.givingway.com/project/ebdd
  10. Sanitary Bins FAQ: Everything You Need to Know – VR Sani Co. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.vrsani-co.co.uk/sanitary-bins-faq-everything-need-know/

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