Updated on February 5, 2024

·

Created on August 27, 2015

Saathi Pads

Upcoming Update

Saathi Pads are fully biodegradable sanitary pads made from waste banana tree fiber.

Developed By
  1. Saathi
Tested By
  • MIT D-Lab
  • Saathi
Content Partners
Unknown

Author

Product Description

Saathi Pads are fully biodegradable sanitary pads made from waste banana tree fiber. The pads are scent-free, unbleached, and can be used for regular to heavy flow. The for-profit startup is based in Ahmedabad, India.

Target SDGs

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Market Suggested Retail Price

$2.00

Target Users (Target Impact Group)

Household

Distributors / Implementing Organizations

Saathi is embarking on a partnership with Ekal Vidyalaya, one of India’s largest education NGOs, which has a network of over 56,000 schools in every state in India to distribute one million pads to women beginning September 2016 and educate women about feminine hygiene.

Manufacturing/Building Method

Saathi has built a small scale, modular manufacturing machine which takes inputs of the absorbent banana fiber pulp, spun-bonds polypropylene and hygienic-grade polyethylene, and outputs a folded, sterilized sanitary pad complete with wings and adhesives for undergarment attachments.

Intellectural Property Type

Patent

User Provision Model

Saathi has partnered with NGOs (currently working with Ekal Vidyalaya Arogya Foundation) to connect sevikas for distribution in villages. User can procure pads on Saathi Pads website.

Distributions to Date Status

Hundreds of thousands of pads have been distributed since sales started in May 2017.

Absorbency types

Regular, according to Indian Government standards. Absorbency rated at 40-50 mL.

Absorbent base materials

Biodegradable disposable sanitary napkin with plant-based plastics and  banana fibre.

Usability Features

Adhesiveness present. Absorbency level and shape similar to standard pads. Interview with representative

Design Specifications

Biodegradable material of banana tree fiber, with plant-based plastics and banana fibre Absorbency level is almost double what current standards asks for.Interview with representative Indian government established standard for absorbency; Saathi pads meet the standard for absorbency and nearly doubles what the standard asks for with the latest design.Interview with representative   Expert comments on biodegradability: Polypropylene nonwovens, which are used for the cover and polyethylene films, which are used for the barrier are not biodegradable, neither are positioning adhesives (i.e. the adhesive to stick the pad to the underwear). Additionally, biodegradability per se does not mean that a product would actually biodegrade under all circumstances. Same as for compostability, the environment for degradation has to be right; e.g. PLA, a corn derived plastic is compostable in commercial hot composting facilities but would not decompose when littered.

Product Schematics

Technical Support

Provided by the manufacturer

Replacement Components

Unknown

Lifecycle

Up to 8 hours, though varies by woman based upon menstrual flow. Typically 4-6 hours of use. Interview with representative

Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

High absorbency capacity to ensure lifecycle is similar to other pads on the market, material is adhesive and thin enough for user comfort and ease, look and feel similar to standard pads, high absorbency level and capacity. The designers are also aiming to encourage more awareness of sustainability and acceptance of the product. One goal is to make the pad locally accessible, both in the materials used and distribution chain. Interview with representative

Vetted Performance Status

The product has undergone extensive research and testing, both within India and also in MIT's D-Lab. The Saathi team has ensured that the pads follow government standards and may have plans to run clinical trials with interested gynecologists and other clinicians. Interview with representative

Safety

Pad should not be used beyond the recommended time period of 8-10 hours.

Complementary Technical Systems

None

Academic Research and References

No academic publications, though user testing and feedback has been conducted for the product. The product arose from two MIT courses that researched methods for banana fiber processing and manufacturing menstrual pads. Now, the team is focusing on achieving industry standard for the product. Interview with representative

Saathi. “Saathi’s 100% Compostable and Biodegradable Sanitary Pads .” Climate CoLab, 2018.

Kagetsu, Kristin. “Saathi Pads.” MIT D-LAB Designing for a more equitable world, 2018.

Saathi. ABSORBENT ARTICLE HAVING NATURAL FIBERS, issued 2020.

 

 

Chaudhary, Jatin. “Saathipads: Biodegradable Sanitary Pads Made from Banana Fibre.” eChai, July 24, 2017.

Compliance with regulations

Saathi follows government standards as set by the Bureau of Indian Standards for sanitary napkins (IS 5405).Interview with representative Experts note that sanitary napkins have to meet the microbiological requirements of the governing body (expressed as a maximum bioburden, measured in CFU).

Evaluation methods

User testing and feedback, research experiments to ensure compliance with governmental standards.Interview with representative

Other Information

Experts note that considering the sparsity of bathroom facilities (or other locations to change the pads outside the home) in India, it's recommended to design pads that can be used at least for 12 hours. The user can put on a pad in the morning and change it at night, both in the privacy of her home.

Comments from the Community

4 Comments

  1. E4C.COMMENTS says:

    Michael Moscherosch says:

    Polypropylene nonwovens, which are used for the cover and polyethylene films, which are used for the barrier are not biodegradable, neither are positioning adhesives (i.e. the adhesive to stick the pad to the underwear). The banana fiber absorbent is biodegradable, though, but so is wood pulp, the absorbent typically used for napkins. Saathi could modify their claim and say that x% (i.e. the weight percent of banana fibers of the total pad) is biodegradable. But that is also true for commercial pulp pads, so it wouldn’t differentiate Saathi from other products. There are very few truly biodegradable cover and barrier materials available and they tend to be very expensive compared to the PP/PE materials typically used. Saathi would most likely not be able to produce the pads at the intended price without permanent subsidies (donations).

    Comment on biodegradability: Biodegradability per se does not mean that a product would actually biodegrade under all circumstances. Same as for compostability, the environment for degradation has to be right; e.g. PLA, a corn derived plastic is compostable in commercial hot composting facilities but would not decompose when littered. If the target region doesn’t have a commercial composting facility and the infrastructure to collect the products, the “commercially compostable” claim becomes pointless (=greenwashing).

  2. Amir Sabet says:

    It is great that the product is sold and distributed by Maternova and TALC, but is there any plan on distributing/selling the product to end-user (patients and clinics) directly at low-resource settings?

  3. Amir Sabet says:

    Great study design and performance evaluation. Have the designers/product owners considered what could go “wrong” as a misuse/mishandle of the product? Is there any way that inaccurate reading could happen, and if so, what potential harms it could cause?

  4. Iana Aranda says:

    Agreed, Hernan! We’ve made the updates accordingly.

Leave a Reply

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