How to dispose of sanitary napkins?

Disposing of sanitary napkins can be a difficult job. Not only is there a lack of proper arrangements in public toilets but this is considered a taboo altogether, which is why most women refrain from discussing appropriate ways of disposal. But it is important to remember that the wrong disposal of sanitary napkins can be detrimental to the environment.

Why should sanitary napkins be disposed of properly?

There are many reasons to ensure that used sanitary napkins are discarded properly. On an individual level, a soiled sanitary napkin can be smelly and attract flies. The exposed blood also becomes a suitable environment for germs.

If you have pets in the house, and/or eager toddlers, then it is especially necessary to keep them away from prying into the bins and pulling out the pads. Additionally, while a used sanitary pad is the result of a natural process, many people are grossed out by the proximity of a discharge of bodily fluids.

Now let's look at the larger picture. It is to be remembered that sanitary napkins contain plastic and other chemicals, along with cotton. The plastic content is non-biodegradable, and thus, these pads are not eco-friendly at all. These sanitary napkins, with 90% plastic content, stay there for 500-800 years.

Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, recommends that medical wastes such as sanitary napkins should be incarcerated or exposed to severe heat for the destruction of pathogens, which does not happen. Instead, they are discarded as household waste; they have to be separated from other recyclable wastes, manually. This exposes the waste pickers to micro-organisms before the pads are buried in landfills outside the cities.

How to dispose of sanitary napkins properly?

1. Separate Bin for Biohazards: In most houses, there are separate bins for dry and wet wastes. It is to be remembered that soiled sanitary napkins belong to neither. They are a biohazard waste. So, the first step to dispose of sanitary napkins properly is to keep a separate bin for them.

2. Disposable Bag inside Bin: Place a disposable lining inside your bin, and collect the used napkins inside. This will prevent the local waste collector from just dumping the soiled pads into the collected waste and mixing them with the rest of the dry/wet garbage. It’s a good idea to mark this bag as “biohazard waste”. Throw them away every two days.

3. Fold and Wrap the Napkins: Before disposing of the menstrual pad, fold it and wrap it properly in toilet papers. You can also wrap it in a plastic/paper cover of the new pad that you will use next. This will not only ensure that the unsightly pads are adequately covered but keep away the odour, germs, and flies.

4. Cover: Ensure that the bin you’re using to dump the sanitary napkins has a lid. Every time you dump a used pad, fold the mouth of the bag inside to close it, and then cover the bin securely. This will further prevent odour and insects. Besides, it will avert curious kids or playful pets from prying into the containers.

5. Don’t Flush: Flushing sanitary napkin is a strict no-no. They can clog the pipeline and cause an overflow.

If you use tampons instead of sanitary napkins, the methods of disposing them in a sterile manner are the same, and for the same reasons. Of course, if you’re worried that despite your efforts, the used sanitary napkins will still be harmful to the environment or the people dealing with them, then you can always shift to the reusable menstrual cups which last for ten years. But if, for the moment, you feel that sanitary napkins are your best option, then you must make sure to put your best efforts to discard them properly.