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Waste pickers await disposal system for sanitary napkins
ST Correspondent | Friday, 5 April 2013 AT 12:32 PM IST
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Meeting with govt officials on April 26 to discuss issue

PUNE: Despite several appeals from waste pickers, sanitary napkin manufacturers have not made any commitment to organise an effective system of waste management.

The waste pickers now have their hopes pinned on the meeting with government officials on April 26 in Mumbai.

Over the last two years, SWaCH has made repeated attempts to contact sanitary napkin and diaper manufacturing companies like Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson and Hindustan Unilever to discuss sustainable methods of disposal.

Everyday, waste pickers have to handle hundreds of used sanitary napkins and diapers, which apart from being extremely nauseating are a health hazard.

According to the provisions of the Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR), included in the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011, notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests on February 4, 2011, the producers are required to finance, and organise a system for environmentally sound management of waste (especially non-biodegradable waste) generated from their products.

In November 2012, GTZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) had organised an international meeting in Germany where company heads were invited. However, the manufacturing companies refused to make any commitment.

In January this year, mayor Vaishali Bankar and Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak had invited these companies to a joint consultation in Pune. They did not respond to this either.

SWaCH then sent them boxes of used sanitary napkins.

On Wednesday, representatives of FIHA (Feminine and Infant Health Association) met Swach, Joint Commissioner for Solid Waste Suresh Jagtap and organisations Parisar and Janwani.

In the meeting, SWaCH representatives discussed issues related to the easy identification of sanitary towels and diapers in waste.

“Due to the heavy use of polymers, the products themselves have issues as they are not biodegradable and non-recyclable; they pose severe environmental threats,” said Lakshmi Narayanan of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat.

SWaCH members have also met the Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Public Health, Government of Maharashtra, TC Benjamin, to highlight this issue.

He has called for a consultation on April 26 in Mumbai to jointly discuss the issue at hand with the waste pickers and manufacturers. FIHA members have been asked to develop a proposal with concrete steps and present it at this consultation.

MANUFACTURER’S RESPONSIBILITY

According to the provisions of the Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR), included in the Plastic Waste Rules 2011, notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests the producers are required to finance, and organise a system for environmentally sound management of waste (especially non-biodegradable waste) generated from their products.

 
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