Across the length and breadth of India, around 121 million menstruators (36%) of the country’s 336 million menstruating population, have access to sanitary products. This results in thousands of tonnes of non-biodegradable pads that are disposed of every year, in a variety of ways. Due to the lack of infrastructure for organised segregation, collection, and disposal as well as improper transportation networks in cities and villages, these soiled pads eventually end up in landfills or oceans.

To put it into numbers, we’re talking roughly 12 BILLION sanitary pads filled with plastics, synthetic super absorbent polymers and artificial fragrances being disposed of every year in India alone. Most of these pads end up in landfills, remaining unchanged for around 600-800 years after disposal.
Similarly, burning has, arguably, a worse effect as incinerating these pads release toxic fumes into the atmosphere - these pollute not just the air, but also the soil and water bodies, thus adversely affecting the food chain.
Flushed down the toilet
Flushing isn’t any better. Disposing of menstrual waste in the sewage system can lead to the clogging of toilets, latrines, septic tanks or sewer systems. It is estimated that menstrual waste causes 6.3% of sewage-related debris along rivers and shorelines.