Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Flushable" Wipes are Not Flushable!

Excerpted from Water Online website:

Flushable wipes and similar products have been a blight for wastewater utilities in recent years. Wipe manufacturers label their products as flushable, but they do not disintegrate like toilet paper in the collection system. Flushable wipes are mislabeled as sewer and septic system safe, but they do not break apart like toilet paper. This causes downstream clogs for treatment plants.

Members of the wastewater industry say these are some of the most troublesome nonwoven materials in their collection systems:

Non-flushable paper, hand towels, tissues and napkins: 47 percent
Non-flushable baby wipes: 18 percent
Feminine hygiene products: 13 percent
Household wipes: 14 percent
Flushable wipes: 8 percent

Though "flushable" products make up only 8 percent, it is important to also consider them "do not flush."

In 2013 and 2014, class action suits were filed against leading manufacturers of "flushable" wipes for property damage due to clogged pipes in homes and businesses. "The Guardian" website says "baby wipes designed for adults have become the scourge of residential and municipal sewer systems around the world."

Baby wipes tend to end up in the diaper pail with the disposable diaper and go to the landfill. Most adults don't keep a diaper pail in the bathroom and are reluctant to put used wipes in the bathroom trash can, so they buy so-called "flushable" wipes, thinking that's the solution. But the majority of wipes do not biodegrade quickly enough to avoid clogging pipes. The next thing you know, you have to call a plumber to have your drains snaked.

"The Guardian" reports that flushable wipes were a major factor in London's famous "fatberg," a 15-ton lump of congealed grease that nearly flooded out the city's sewer system and took three weeks to drill apart in 2013. The combination of grease poured down the drain and wet wipes created the gigantic clog.

Instructions to "do not flush" on wipes are often hidden on the package, in tiny print or under the package flap so you don't see it until you've already purchased and opened it.

If you like wet wipes, consider alternatives. Just dampening toilet tissue often produces the same benefits. You can dampen with water or witch hazel, making your own safe medicated wipes. Or put a small, lidded diaper pail in the bathroom with a plastic bag inside and tie up and dispose of wet wipes in the regular trash.

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