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Water companies worldwide back flushability statement

Utilities in 20 countries have signed a statement calling for wet wipes and similar products to be labelled ‘do not flush' until technical standards have been agreed with the industry.

The statement has been signed by 281 organisations across the world, including water utilities in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

It says that the manufacturers of wipes and personal hygiene products should not be allowed to market the products as ‘flushable’ based on their own criteria or those of manufacturers’ trade associations, and instead should have to develop and agree an ISO technical standard with the water and wastewater industry.

This ISO standard would include the requirement for the product to break into small pieces quickly, not to be buoyant, not to include plastic or regenerated cellulose, and only to contain materials that readily degrade in a range of natural environments.

Unless and until such a standard is agreed, manufacturers should “give consumers clear and unambiguous information about appropriate disposal methods”, with labelling that says ‘do not flush’ and advises to put the product in the bin, says the statement.

This follows news that last month, Water UK wrote to trading standards on behalf of UK water companies to complain about packaging of wet wipes and other sanitary products that claim these items are 'flushable'.

In the UK alone, water companies estimate it costs £88M a year to unblock sewers, and more than half of blockages are exacerbated by wipes and hygiene products. This does not include the human and environmental impact and cost.

Read the full statement and list of signatories here.

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Sewer Networks
Tags: utilities , sewers


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