Aakar Innovations launches Anandi Eco+, a compostable menstrual hygiene product
Jaydeep Mandal, Founder, Aakar Innovations Pvt.Ltd, speaks on innovative compostable sanitary pads and the brand's social media campaigns to support menstrual hygiene
Published - 18-June-2019
Jaydeep Mandal, Founder, Aakar Innovations Pvt.Ltd spoke in detail about Anandi Eco+ a compostable menstrual hygiene product, launched by the company last week in Mumbai. He said he came upon the idea of the innovative product in 2010 while working with Honeybee Network and National Innovation Foundation. “We were trying to see how we could commercialise grass-root innovation, so I met the "Padman" Muruganantham (activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, inventor of the low-cost sanitary pad-making machine.),” he said.
“When I decided to set up the first unit I did not know about menstrual hygiene, as the women in the house were using a cloth that I saw hanging around, but never asked about its use.
Then I started interacting with women in villages to know what challenges they faced. While working in Afghanistan with the Aga Khan Trust, I saw the problems with disposable pads, so we brought out the compostable pad.
Instead of plastics or harmful chemicals, we use jute and banana fiber. The product doesn't have any superabsorbent chemicals and is organic."
Mandal said the target reach in India is 300 million women who don’t have access to pads. “To reach out to them we are planning a campaign on the fundraising platform KETO in India. We are asking everyone in the world to join this movement to educate girls and women in villages about menstrual hygiene,” he added. “We will also provide women access to sustainable menstrual products, not only sanitary pads but also cloth pads, menstrual cups and ask them about their choices to know what products and brands they want to use and create a supply chain for that. The product will soon be available on Flipkart for urban consumers.” Mandal said that the brand has reached out to women across the globe in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Africa. “The government of Nepal announced on World Environment Day that they will adopt sustainable health products and compostable pads, which will help support the cause," he added.
Munish Gupta, Chairman, PIO TV, & Director Tsiko Barberry Foundation, also mentor of Aakar Innovations, said," It has been our dream to change the world by putting an extensive network in India and around the world to benefit from Anandi, the fully compostable napkins that are affordable, prevent the scourge of disease, put girls back in schools and save the environment.”
He added, “Under the Tsiko Barberry Foundation we donated two machines, one of which is installed at the birthplace of Late South African President Nelson Mandela. It was inaugurated on Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa along with Miss World Chairperson Julia Morley and her amazing Miss World winners, including Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar.”
On getting support from the government, he said, “We have been able to influence the New Delhi Municipal Corporation to adopt our pads and give a free supply to all government schools in Delhi. We have also incorporated with the Bureau of Indian Standards Committee Government of India, where we are the only small manufactures apart from P&G and to influence government to adopt compostable pads also as a standard of BIS.” As for the brand ambassadors for future campaigns, Mandal said that the Miss World organization had been helping them. “Manushi Chillar (Miss World 2017) has been very proactive. Other former Miss World winners have also joined the campaign,” he added. Miss World 2018 Vanessa Ponce and FBB colours Miss India World 2019 Suman Rao were also present at the launch.
Ponce said," As per the statistics there is a need to dispose of 113,000 tonnes of used sanitary napkins which pollute our environment, every year. So it's time women used compostable products. The second thing is to help women understand the importance of menstrual hygiene and it's our social responsibility to reach out and help each other." Rao added, “Menstrual hygiene is still a taboo, especially in India. We need to understand that it comes naturally to every woman and they don't need to be ashamed of it or hide it.”
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