The material prevents any foul odour and transmission of airborne bacterial diseases. The only residue is ash, which can then be used as a fertilizer, and is easily dissolvable in water.

While many waste experts say incineration of sanitary napkins leads to toxic emissions, Shyam says his machine is environmentally safe.

“An average weight of a sanitary napkin is 6-8 grams. And 85% of that is made of wood pulp, paper and other organic matter. The synthetic part is only the upper layer,” he said. “Moreover, in the incinerator, the temperature doesn’t go beyond 300 degrees Celsius. At that temperature, the 15% of polypropylene that is present just shrinks. It doesn’t convert it into any harmful matter, which it will if the temperature is more than 470 degrees Celsius.”

High demand

In March earlier this year, the innovator presented the incinerator at a festival organised by the National Innovation Foundation, held in New Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“That helped make many more people and NGOs become aware, so now I have been sending these to all over India. For that, we have created the same product using concrete, with reinforced steel bars, so that I can transport them easily on trains,” he said.

From several villages in Gujarat to now selling in Assam, Rajasthan, Odisha, among other Indian states, the demand for the simple machine is slowly picking up. Government schools and colleges in cities also seem interested.

“We have installed this incinerator in eight to 10 high schools and it has been of great help. We plan to order more incinerators for the university,” Harish Joshi, head of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Manipal University, Karnataka, told Down to Earth magazine.

Overall, Shyam Sunder has installed more than 2,000 machines in different schools and colleges for Rs2,000 ($30) each.

“We have installed these incinerators at the 109 girls’ residential schools in Gujarat and we are quite satisfied with its performance,” Darshana Suthar, gender officer at the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan cell in Gandhinagar, told the Down to Earth magazine. Earlier, Suthar explained, the toilets would get clogged as students tried flushing the napkins to dispose them.

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