The western bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) would be hearing an environment interest litigation (EIL) filed by three women complaining against manufacturers of sanitary napkins and diapers for not providing pouches or wrappers for their disposal, saying it amounted to breach of Solid Waste Management (SWM) rules, 2016, and results in serious waste management issues.
In the EIL, Nagpur-based human rights lawyer Smita Sarode-Singalkar, Pune-based law student Purva Bora and social activist Supriya Jain-Sonar cited breach of law by manufacturers of sanitary napkins and diapers by not providing pouches for the disposal of used products, when it is mandatory as per SWM rules.
“The NGT bench of Justice Umesh D Salvi and Dr Nagin Nanda issued notices to the Union Environment and Forest Ministry, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), state Health department, Pune Municipal Corporation, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Nagpur Municipal Corporation, state Urban Development department along with manufacturing companies to submit their reply by December 19,” said Asim Sarode, lawyer for petitioner.
Applicant Purva Bora said she realised there was a discrepancy between law and actual practice of SWM rules, 2016 as no manufacturer or seller of sanitary napkins provides any disposal bag or pouch. The petitioner mentioned that sanitary waste is part of section 3(4) of the SWM rules, 2016.
Applicant Smita Sarode-Sinalkar said a woman can use between 8,000 and 15,000 disposable pads, tampons and liners in her lifetime, and sanitary waste in the form of used napkins creates a huge garbage in the country every year.
Another applicant Supriya Jan-Sonar said many a time, the non-compostable sanitary pads make their way into sewerage systems, landfills, fields and water bodies in the country, posing huge environmental and health risks. The cotton and plastic used in some products also take a toll on the environment.
The situation is similar for diapers, they said adding that the government should direct manufacturers and brand owners of sanitary napkins to provide pouches or wrappers for disposal of each sanitary napkin or diaper along with the product.