Lack of incinerators for sanitary napkins add to Goa’s waste burden

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Despite having 97 per cent women menstruating population using sanitary napkins, Goa does not have a proper system in place for disposal of sanitary waste. As per the State Government data, nearly 1.8 tonnes of sanitary napkins are disposed everyday in Goa, adding to the exiting mountain of landfills in the State.

Goa may boast about having state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, but it is yet to have a mechanism for scientific disposal of sanitary waste generated in the State.

As per a State Government Report, of the total female population in Goa which is 7,33,710 females (as per 2011 census), 5,06,260 females (69 per cent) belong to the menstruating population in Goa. Of these 4,91,072 (97 per cent) were found to be using sanitary napkins.

“Unlike the low national average, Goa has 97 per cent of women menstruating population using sanitary napkins which is high for an Indian state but can be attributed to the higher GDP as well as the socio-economic status of Goa’s populace,” stated the Report.

The guidelines by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for sanitary waste management, that have been framed as as per the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, have listed several ways in which currently the waste is being disposed at household level. These include open disposal at dump sites, unwrapped disposal in common household bins, burying in pit, burning of the waste, using local incinerators and flushing in toilet. However, all of these are unsafe and unscientific and can lead to health and environmental hazards.

According to the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 sanitary waste is categorised as solid waste. The rules also state that the sanitary waste shall be wrapped securely in the pouches provided by the manufacturers or brand owners of these products or in a suitable wrapping material as instructed by the local authorities and shall be placed in the dry waste or non-biodegradable waste bin.

Right now we do not have a proper system to treat sanitary waste in a scientific manner. In some places, the sanitary waste are part of the dry waste. Once the incinerator is installed at Kundaim, this sanitary waste will be treated there.

-- Ganesh Shetgaokar, Chairman, Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB)

“The CPCB guidelines also observe that the status of implementation of the sanitary waste management provisions as per the rule is almost zero. According to the guidelines, the most preferred method for disposal of sanitary waste is incineration in the common bio-medical  waste  treatment plant,” stated the Report. 

“However, considering Goa’s highest GDP and uplifted socio-economic conditions, there will be a difference in the usage and disposal pattern of sanitary napkins in the state. Hence, the household survey was framed to bring out the information on the usage and disposal of sanitary napkins in Goa along with the knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) analysis,” it pointed out.

In Goa too, similar to the national findings, several unsafe disposal practices of sanitary napkins have been found. At the household level, disposal of sanitary napkins in the household municipal waste bins is the most prevalent practice (50 per cent) followed by burning (40 per cent). A few are disposed of by flushing in toilets (2 per cent).

“Many of the households disposing the sanitary waste in the waste bins were found to be segregating them as non-biodegradable waste but as Goa does not have a system of collecting sanitary waste from household separately as of now, the waste finally gets dumped in the landfill,” stated the Report.


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