NATIONAL NEWS - A machine that will produce the world’s first biodegradable menstrual hygiene pads has been unveiled at the historic Liliesleaf Farm, as part of the Nelson Mandela centenary commemorations.
The hygiene technology was launched by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in collaboration with Cintron Energy Drink and Aakar, an Indian empowerment company, at the farm in Rivonia where Madiba’s fellow Rivonia triallists were arrested ahead of the treason trial which began in 1956.
Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar, Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle and South Africa’s own Miss World 2014, Rolene Strauss, were in attendance.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said: “The machine is revolutionary in that it is designed in five to six different parts to make a world standard product, but can be operated by women from underprivileged, rural backgrounds. We have been able to skill people in about two weeks to bring production to near full potential.”
Various materials are used in parts of the sanitary napkins that are finally amalgamated as one pad, making it easier for a self-help group of women to work on a unit in a rural area.
“This also creates sustainable livelihoods. It helps us meet several UN Millenial Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals,” the foundation said.
The product is reportedly “100% compostable”. There is no plastic in the pads. This eliminates the need to incinerate them after use, since they break down in about six months.
The foundation said the machine would produce 2 000 to 2 500 pads a day. Each unit will be placed in a rural setting, giving 13 to 14 locals jobs.
At least 25% of the pads produced will be given away for free to disadvantaged women and girls. The products from these units will be sold through store supply chains across the country.
The date distribution will start is still to be confirmed.
Jaydeep Mandal, managing director and founder of Aakar Innovations, said: “Anandi will not only help empower disadvantaged rural communities by giving them access to sanitaryware at an affordable price, it will also enable women entrepreneurs to earn an income.”