Back in March, the startup was awarded $10,000 for making it to the semi-finals of the World's Challenge, a student competition centered around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In early June, they competed in the competition's international version at Western University.
The group began at an innovation competition in Drayton Valley in 2017, and has since been selected for inclusion in the University of Alberta's Enactus, an organization that supports student-created social enterprises aimed at developing community-driven projects that foster a more sustainable future.
Led by Nicole Sanchez, a fouth-year business student at the U of A, Hempact is working towards creating biodegradable menstrual pads using excess hemp that will help reduce the landfill impact of menstrual products. They're also looking to host workshops at schools across Edmonton aimed at reducing the stigma around menstruation.
The project's main focus, Sanchez says, is to develop an alternative to menstrual pads that is fully biodegradable. Because most of the hemp grown in Alberta is used to create oil products, the dried plants often end up in landfills. By taking advantage of this excess dried stock, Hempact is trying to create a menstrual pad that will biodegrade instead of sitting in a landfill for decades.
In the lab, the group has separated the components of a menstrual pad and are working to make every layer eco-friendly. Though it started as a group of two or three, Hempact now has a solid team of students hoping to take the startup out of Enactus and form an independent social enterprise.
Using their $10,000 award money, the team plans on releasing a prototype of their biodegradable pad this summer, with an actual product coming out early next year. For Sanchez and her colleagues, the project is a step in the right direction to raising awareness about the environmental impacts of menstruation, along with the stigma surrounding it.