The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, has ordered notice to manufacturers of leading sanitary napkin companies to respond to an activist’s plea on evolving a scientific and eco-friendly disposal mechanism.

The Tribunal’s Bench, comprising its judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendran, took up an application filed by G. Vijayakumar, a social activist based in Royapettah.

The Bench also issued notice to the State government, the Chennai Corporation and six manufacturers.

In the application, Mr. Vijayakumar said disposable sanitary napkins and diapers contain plastics, especially acrylic-based super absorbent polymer (SAP) like sodium polyacrylate and layers of poly ethylene and poly propylene.

The manufactures of napkins and diapers are bound by the ‘Extended Producers Responsibility’ norm under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011.

They should ensure methods for collection and disposal of used napkins and diapers in an efficient and eco-friendly manner.

He said the products of many brands also have materials and dyes for printing embedded in them. Apart from wood pulp, chlorine bleach is a key ingredient used to whiten the pulp for aesthetic reasons.

Chlorine bleach is both an environmental and health hazard, releasing toxic chemicals as a by-product of the bleaching process.

Stating the napkins and diapers are disposed either by flushing through the sewerage system into sea and water bodies or through incinerators, the applicant said various pollutants, including dioxins, are getting deposited in landfills.

“Clogged drainages are also a common feature owing to the habit of flushing used sanitary napkins and diapers down toilets,” said the applicant.

The applicant also alleged that in the absence of a proper disposal system, sanitation and sewerage workers are exposed to an incalculable health risk.

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