WASHINGTON: For feminine hygiene and easy availability of sanitary pads, a team of researchers has developed world's first 100-percent biodegradable, maxi pads that uses a processed form of algae as a super-absorbent ingredient.
Researchers from the University of Utah in Salth Lake, USA ultimately developed the SHERO Pad made up of four layers that is effective, comfortable to wear and can break down anywhere from 45 days to six months.
The team was looking for a sustainable solution for feminine hygiene waste.
The four layers include — an outer layer of raw cotton similar to a tea bag to repel liquid, a transfer layer of organic cotton to absorb the liquid and pull it from the outer layer, the super-absorbent layer made of agarose gel (a polymer from brown algae) and a final layer made of a corn-based material that keeps the moisture inside and prevents leakage.
A researcher Amber Barron said that this is novel in comparison to other biodegradable options out there for pads.
Most of the pads are really bulky because they do not have a superabsorbent layer, Barron added.
The need for something like the SHERO Pad originally came from SHEVA, a nonprofit advocacy group for women and girls in Guatemala.
Barron explained that while there are other similar sustainable feminine pads on the market today, they either use a hydrogel that is not 100 percent biodegradable or they use thicker layers of natural cotton that are uncomfortable to wear.
Explaining the advantage of SHERO Pad, another researcher Jeff Bates stated that it can easily be manufactured in smaller villages using locally sourced materials and without sophisticated tools, just common presses and grinding stones.
While the team originally developed the SHERO Pad for users in developing countries such as Guatemala, Bates and the students also will start selling the product in the U.S. for environmentally conscious women.