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IIT-Delhi boys create reusable sanitary napkin from banana fibre

Archit Agarwal and Harry Sehrawat with their product

Two BTech students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi have created a reusable, environment-friendly sanitary napkin. The duo – Archit Agarwal and Harry Sehrawat – dedicated their start-up Sanfee to women empowerment. They had earlier created a roll-on for period pain relief as well as a stand-and-pee device for women.

The reusable pads claim to use the highly absorbent banana fibre, in a first. One pad can be used 120 times and works on a four-layered formula. One layer consists of Quadrant True Lock (QTL) technology which makes the pad leakproof and prevents rashes. A patent has been filed for the design. A pack of two pads is priced at Rs 199.

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The BTech students, who were working on the product since December 2008, were guided by IIT-Delhi professor Srinivasan Venkataraman, informed Sehrawat.

"Our start-up works to empower women to fight against the odds, which restrict them from carrying out their daily tasks. While researching the problem, we found that there is a huge ton of waste generated by sanitary napkins," said Sehrawat.

The Sanfee sanitary napkin.

Quoting data from the Menstrual Hygiene Alliance of India (MHAI), he remarked, "India has approximately 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins to be taken care of every year, and a majority of these are non-biodegradable. Most of these sanitary napkins are made of synthetic materials and plastic, which can take more than 50-60 years to decompose. Thus, our aim was to create a pad which can be affordable as well as biodegradable. We are the first to ever use banana fibre, which is absorbent, low cost and decomposable, in a sanitary napkin."

The duo shot to fame last year with their stand-and-pee device for women, which was inspired when a female friend contracted UTI after using a public bathroom. "Men hardly have to face such issues. Such natural things like menstruation affect their life so much so that my female friends have to skip their classes because of pain. We wish to generate natural solutions to these issues," he said.

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The duo is also working on parallel research and said they will release another product within this month. The sanitary napkin is NABL-tested accredited. The pain relief roll-on released by Sanfee last year was claimed to be approved by FDA but was later clarified to be Ayush Ministry accredited.