New European Wet Wipe Passes Water UK’s Regulations – Branded “Fine to Flush”. Is There A Catch?

Amid thousands of reports of clogged sewage systems from wet wipes and fatbergs comes a new (maybe?) knight and shining armor: European company, Natracare, has released a brand new wipe that claims to be plastic free and biodegradable. Water UK set in place a set of stringent “flushable” regulations and according to the “moist tissue” packaging, the product is safe to flush. While we don’t know the exact methods and tests that are conducted to test flushability, Water UK reported that after testing the Natracare moist tissue, they concluded that the product is “100 per cent paper tissue and plastic free, marine friendly and compostable”.

Could these be the answer to our prayers? Or are they too good to be true? Only time and more tests will tell!

Read the full article here.

Wessex Water Continues to Warn Community After Another Massive Wipes Clog

Wessex Water Services, a water supply and sewage utility company in South West England, has a modest social media fan following. The company uses their platform to educate communities and spread the word about the detrimental effects that wet wipes have on sewer systems world wide.

After dealing with several previous hefty sewage clogs from the non-flushables, Wessex Water preached to the public that they do not break down and are not to be flushed. Despite these warnings, the company has recently been faced with another large clog in the system. They continue to share photos as the crews remove the mess of wipes from the system in order to further spread the word to stop flushing non-flushables.

“75% of sewer blockages are caused by disposable items, such as wet wipes, being flushed down the toilet. Our team recently came across these wet wipes in ” – Wessex Water

Check out the video below from Wessex Water:

Read the full article here.

“Own Your Throne” Game of Thrones spinoff from City of Hamilton brings awareness to proper flushing habits

Game of Thrones fans, rejoice! The City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada has created a clever spinoff of the HBO Drama series. Hamilton’s “Own Your Throne” depicts loyal toilet guardians, Richard the Turd and Sir Peeter defending their lair from unflushables seeking to destroy the kingdom.

The city has been dealing with an increase in sewage clogs from unflushable products being sent down the drains and has been focusing on educating the public about items that are actually ok to flush. The website offers a comprehensive list of unsuitable products for the sewer as well as articles that further explain what damages these items can cost when flushed.

Watch the videos here.

Invasion of the Fatbergs – New Video from JEA

 

A Northeast Florida community owned utility company, JEA, created a clever new video, “Invasion of the Fatbergs”, to educate the public on the harm that flushing non-flushables has on the sewage systems. The video is a spinoff of a horror film which shows a happy, perfect town being invaded by large sewer “creatures”.

On the landing page for the new video, JEA brings awareness to the materials that cause fatbergs, like baby wipes, paper towels, floss, feminine hygiene products, clumping cat litter, condoms, grease, oil, and cooking fat.

“Remember, what goes down might just come back up.” – Invasion of the Fatbergs

Visit the website here.

Will New “Fine to Flush” Guidelines Be Enough To Cut Wipe Clogs?

A Safe New Wipe Or Just Some Hype?

Wet wipe manufacturers in the UK will now be able to display a “Fine to Flush” logo on their packages if they pass strict new tests set in place by the Scottish Water Industry. Although the specifics of the scientific tests were not mentioned, industry officials state that the new label will let consumers know which specific wet wipes do not contain plastic and are (supposedly) safe to flush.

The new standard came after massive fatbergs have been surfacing throughout the UK, making news headlines and bringing awareness to the issue across the globe. According to Scottish Water, they reportedly encounter a whopping 95 FOG clogs per day, costing them millions per year to clear from sewer systems.

“We all have a part to play in looking after the water cycle. Anything which encourages people to think about their responsibility is welcome. Our sewer response teams deal with the consequences of people flushing the wrong items down the toilet – items like wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products – on a daily basis. We hope this new official industry Fine to Flush standard will help cut consumer confusion and lead to a reduction in blockages.” – Peter Farrer, Scottish Water COO

Read the full article, here.

City of Tacoma Shells Out $100,000 Each Year in Efforts to Remove Wet Wipes from Sewage

Stuart Magoon, Assistant Division Manager of Environmental Services with the City of Tacoma, Washington was recently interviewed by K5 News about the damages that wet wipes are causing in residential and city sewer systems. In the video, Magoon shows K5 News the Bar Screen at their facility which runs 24/7 to pull debris out of the sewer line that won’t make it through the treatment process. The plant spends about $100,000 each year to deal with the problem – which consists of collecting, cleaning and disposing of all the debris. He also explains that not only is city infrastructure at risk, but so are individual homes. By flushing non-flushable wet wipes and putting grease and oil down drains, homeowners are taking a gamble with the health of their sewer piping. When asked why wet wipes aren’t flushable, Magoon states that they aren’t biodegradable and when they mix with other things in the sewer they cause a huge problem.

Watch the interview with K5 News, here.

Above: Stuart Magoon explaining how the Bar Screen sifts through debris in the sewage.

Above: Debris pulled out of the sewage by the Bar Screen is then dried and disposed of in a bin and sent to the landfill.

64-Meter Sidmouth Fatberg Takes Crew 8 Weeks to Clear From Sewers

Outfitted with shovels and pickaxes, crews spend 8 weeks tackling a monster blob of wet-wipes and grease in South West England sewers.

Charlie Ewart, the lucky finder of the smelly mass of wipes and grease, weighs in on the moment he came across the fatberg, “I saw it and thought: ‘What on earth?’ It was completely unexpected,” Ewart said. “It’s really eerie in that bit of the sewer and it does look like something out of a horror scene, all congealed and glossy and matted together with all kinds of things.”

Ewart discovered the mass below the elegant seafront town of Sidmouth. The 64-meter mess was found stuck in the sewage holding tank, which was built in the Victorian era. At the end of the Esplanade lies the pumping station in which the sewage flows to after passing through the holding tank. The holding tank has been brewing the mass for an estimated 2 years, and people of the area have reported that it has caused a smell to surface.

South West Water’s director of wastewater, Andrew Roantree stated that they were used to dealing with clogs from flushed items like condoms, nappies and sanitary products, but the introduction of the wet-wipe to the sewers was a whole new ball game. “The proliferation of wet wipe-type products has started to generate a real problem,” said Roantree. “The wet wipes tend to create a matrix that all these other things get caught up in.” In a kind of snowball effect, the wet wipes congeal with fats, oil and grease, gradually forming a hard mass.

Read the full article here and here.

Australian Supermarket Reverses Plan to Sell “Flushable” Wet Wipes After Customers Voice Concern

Aldi, an Australian Supermarket chain, has slashed its plans to sell wet wipes marked as “flushable” after the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) and Aldi shoppers raised concern about the product’s ability to break down in the sewer.

The concern began when Aldi released its “Special Buys” list of upcoming deals which included the “Green Action flushable wet wipe”. Aldi customers took to Facebook to voice their concerns about the Supermarket selling wet wipes marked as “flushable”, noting that wet wipes are a hazard to the wastewater process. News Corp Australia spoke with Aldi representatives and the company responded, “While there is currently no Australian standard for flushability, this product has been tested to the EDINA and INDA International guidelines, passing flushability and biodegradability tests.” However, they decided to not release the product in stores as they worked with the ACCC on a solution.

“The ACCC is already pursuing alleged misleading ‘flushable’ claims more generally, with two proceedings currently before the Federal Court against Pental and Kimberly-Clark Australia Pty Ltd.”

Read the full story here.

Sonoma Water Implements Pollution Prevention and Source Control Programs

Sonoma Water’s Environmental Services Division implements Pollution Prevention and Source Control programs

After seeing an increase in wastewater clogs in Northern California, Sonoma Water’s Environmental Services Division has implemented pollution prevention and control programs focusing on major culprits of detrimental sewage clogs for wastewater treatment plants and aging pipes, as well as major water polluters. The initiative focuses on key areas such as FOG or Fats, Oils and Grease, Safe Medicine Disposal, Pest Management, Hazardous Waste Disposal, and several others specifically geared towards commercial pollution from companies and businesses. The new programs bring light to wastewater and water issues and aim to educate the general public about resources available to them to reduce and eliminate harmful environmental impacts.

 

“The aim of these programs is to keep our treatment facilities in regulatory compliance and prevent pollutants from reaching our waterways through Sonoma Water facilities.  We do this by providing outreach and education to the users of our facilities and by conducting inspections, reviewing building plans and requiring pretreatment at industrial and commercial facilities.”

Read the full article, here.

“Dreaming of a Wipe-Free Christmas”

A Nightmare Before Christmas!

In the spirit of the upcoming Christmas holiday, we thought we would share the lovely creation pictured above that was created by Northumbrian Water in the UK.

The “Christmas Tree” is made up entirely of wet wipes that were found flowing throughout their sewers. The message they hope to convey with this unique work of art is that wipes and other non-flushables need to stay out of pipes in order to avoid a true nightmare before Christmas!

“Good drain care is for life, not just for Christmas but our tree is certainly a unique reminder of what you should and shouldn’t put down your toilets and sinks, to help keep the sewers flowing.” – Chris Hepple, Production Operator for Northumbrian Water

Read the full article, here.

Flushed Wipes and Grease cause 3,000 Gallon Sewer Overflow

Wipes strike again!

The town of Garner, North Carolina was alerted to a massive sanitary sewer overflow from a manhole on U.S. Highway 70 West at 9am last Saturday morning. Crews worked tirelessly to clean up the 3,000 gallon spill until it was finally resolved by 2pm. The crews released information about the clog and deemed the culprit to be wipes and grease.

The City of Raleigh has begun urging its residents to not flush wet wipes down the sewer in order to prevent these massive sewage clogs and dangerous overflows.

Read the full article, here.

Reports Reveal All ‘Flushable’ Wipes Sold In UK Have Failed Industry Tests

That’s right – of all the brands marketing their wet wipes as ‘flushable’ in the UK, not one has passed the water industry’s disintegration tests, reports BBC.

Last year, the UK government requested that wipes manufacturers and water companies find a common ground and create an agreeable flushable standard for the industry. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in their efforts. Manufacturers of the wipes insist that flushable wipes aren’t the problem, while water companies push back stating that manufacturers flushability tests aren’t stringent enough and in the end only pee, poo and paper should be flushed.

Scientists at WRC, a water-testing laboratory in Swindon, carry out tests on wet wipes to assess their ability to disintegrate when they are flushed into the sewers. They put wipes into conical flasks full of water and rotate them on a shaking platform – which they believe mimics the turbulence of water conditions in a sewer.Using this technique, they have found that none of the wipes marked “flushable” which are currently available for sale in the UK pass the test.

Read the article here.

Indianapolis Plumber Says 1/3 of Repairs He Makes Are From Wipes Damages

The Real Cost of Using ‘Flushable’ Wipes

Indiana Plumber, Jack Hope with Hope Plumbing, warns his customers and all wet wipes users about the heavy costs that flushing wipes down the toilet can incur. He recalls that nearly one-third of all calls his company responds to are wet-wipes related clogs. Hope says, “If you catch it early we can come out there and snake it and it is a minimal charge you know somewhere between $100 and $400. Worst case scenario, you end up having to replace a sewer line and depending on where that is it could range anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000.” Hope recommends disposing of wipes in the trash can to avoid these hefty fines and damages in the future.

A recent customer of Hope Plumbing, Amy Tenney, warns friends and other mothers everywhere that flushable wipes are simply not flushable. Tenney says that she was just following the packaging on her ‘flushable’ wipes when she ended up with a clog in her sewage pipes. Amy says she now warns her neighbors about flushing the wipes, “I was like I don’t want anybody else and I know how many moms I know to buy them in Costco in bulk and it’s like I don’t want theirs exploding so it kind of alarmed the whole street of other moms like just don’t do it as much.”

Read the article here.

Clogging Up Sewers and Coastlines – Wipes Are On The Move to Destroy

700 volunteers surveyed 500 sites across the Irish coastline for the 2018 Coastwatch Shore Survey which took place last month. Their consistent findings across the board were wet wipes contaminating beaches and ocean waters.

Where are these wipes coming from? In the past several years, Ireland has built many new sewage treatment plants in hopes to combat the increased amount of waste – but that’s only part of the issue. The reason wet wipes are ending up in oceans and across the coastline is because sewage treatment plants are being clogged with trash and wet wipes and the waste is being forced out to the coast.

In spite of more sewage treatment plants being built in Ireland in recent years, wet wipes are causing problems in sewerage, blocking pipes and increasingly ending up on coastlines, according to Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky.

In pipework they form long “ropes” clogging up systems, many of which ultimately end up in the coastal environment. “They appear like a piece of grey rope on the shores. People don’t realize what they are,” she added.

Read more about what the Coastwatch Shore Survey uncovered, here.

The Big Wet-Wipe Wipe Out

Could wet wipes be heading for extinction?

There’s no denying it: plastic waste is a huge problem in today’s society- ending up in our landfills, water supply and oceans while harming humans and animals alike.

So what’s that got to do with wipes? Wet-wipes contain non-biodegradable plastic fibers that allow them to maintain their integrity in various solutions. When disposed of properly (in the trash) the single-use convenience items end up in landfills, further contributing to the waste epidemic. When disposed of improperly (down the toilet) wet wipes cause huge problems and expensive blockages in residential sewer lines and municipal pipes as well as wastewater treatment facilities.

According to BBC News, the UK government has plans in order to eliminate plastic single-use waste products, which would include wet wipes – “So manufacturers will either have to develop plastic-free wipes or consumers will have to go without.”

Continue reading the article here.

Could Flushable Wipes Actually Become Flushable?

A New Horizon for Wipes

Austria based company, the Lenzing Group, creates eco-friendly fibers for various applications. Their new product called “Veocel” is made up of a mixture of cellulosic Lyocell fibers and wood pulp that easily and safely break down in a much shorter period of time.

Currently, wet wipes are produced using non-biodegradable synthetic fibers like polyester, which are difficult to breakdown when flushed and also leave microscopic pieces of plastic in our water supply even after it’s treated. In contrast, the new Veocel Lyocell fibers are reported to be a sustainable and botanic alternative to the current synthetics and also provide enhanced absorbency and natural smoothness.

Not only do the Veocel Lyocell fibers claim to be eco-friendly and sustainable, in recent tests the products have been shown to reach 90% disintegration within 30 minutes – which far surpasses the flushability guidelines set in place by INDA today.

“We take a proactive approach and lay the foundation for flushable wet wipes that combine convenience with environmental responsibility, so that we can bring optimal quality and performance to flushable nonwoven products, as well as other nonwoven segments”  – Wolfgang Plasser, vice president of Global Business Management Nonwovens, Lenzing AG.

Read the full article here.

Diving and Sewage. Not A Good Mix

divers in sewage

photo credit: Fox News & Charleston Water System

A Grim Warning from South Carolina Officials

Now here’s an example of Sewage Superheroes! Scuba divers were tasked to take a deep dive into raw sewage to unclog the system. After navigating down about 80 – 90 feet down through sewage, they discovered a monster of a clog primarily comprised of flushable wet wipes.

How did it get so bad! Culprit: “Flushable” Wipes. Not so flushable! The Charleston Water System of North Carolina, warns local residents of the impact these wipes are having to the sewage system. Their advice is simple: “Don’t flush stuff like this.”

Read more about the excursion here

“Are Wet Wipes Flushable?” 

Wet Wipe Flushability – The million dollar topic in the Plumbing and Wastewater industry today

Terry’s Plumbing, a company in Pittsburg, PA was curious to find out the answer for themselves and set out to follow the path of wet wipes from start to finish. 

First off, why are wet wipes suddenly all the rage? There’s two main reasons: convenience and comfort/cleanliness – both factors that users claim to experience from their usage in the restroom. So what makes them so harmful? While convenience and comfort for the consumer are a huge plus, the risks out weigh the benefits. The harm being done to sewer systems around the world is not only very costly to cities, but the increase in waste from the thick wet wipes is piling up in and causing dangerous backup and sewage spills.

What did Terry’s Plumbing find in their exploration of the wet wipe life cycle? Sure, if you’re talking literally about a single wipe being able to physically move down the drain, then yes, it’s flushable. However, once the wipe reaches underground pipes it has the potential of getting stuck during transit on infiltrating tree roots in the ground. Unlike regular toilet paper, which breaks down in less than a day of being submerged in water, the wet wipes don’t dissolve for many months, causing the build up in the resident’s yard even before it can get to the treatment facility.

Should the wet wipes make it past this point, they will eventually reach the local sewage treatment plant. Typical city infrastructure isn’t designed to handle large amounts of trash and other unflushables – and this is where the expensive clogs happen. Wet wipes mix together with fats, oils, grease and trash and these clumps continue to build up for years on end. To date, the largest fatberg buildup was 15 tons and the size of a large school bus.

The fact that many of these wipes are being marketed as flushable, keeps them competitive with their paper rival as users are not forced to find some alternative means of disposing of them.

Continue reading the article here.

The Concern Over Wipes Continues to Build in Europe

 

Two representatives from EurEau, the voice of Europe’s drinking water and wastewater service operators, Oliver Loebel and Maxime Bineau, discuss the growing concern with plastics polluting the water supply and the problem wipes serve in the debacle.

“The SUP [Single Use Plastics] Directive proposed by the European Commission is an opportunity to mitigate marine plastic pollution, and improve the general state of our environment. While this goal is laudable, effective measures are also needed to prevent another kind of insidious pollution, closer to the European consumer.”

The article goes on to challenge the Directive as it points out its flaws in failing to combat a major source of plastics in the water – “flushable” wet wipes: “The SUP Directive fails to tackle the impact of some SUP on our waste water infrastructure. Some plastics can find their way through water pipes through user behaviour or inappropriate labelling by manufacturers.”

Loebel and Bineau point out the fact that many manufacturers falsely advertise wet wipes as “flushable”, when in reality the majority of the products contain plastic fibers to help them resist breakdown in aqueous solutions. In fact, in the UK, 75% of identifiable pipe-clogging material was found to be from wet wipes alone. The authors also bring up an important point – even if wipes were indeed able to break down once flushed, they would still pose a significant threat to marine life and human health- “If wet wipes really were to decompose as claimed by manufacturers, they would release a substantial amount of micro-plastics into waste water, contaminating sewage sludge or worse, be emitted directly into the environment.”

Read the full article here.

Global Consumer Wet Wipes Market Research Report

“Upcoming Growth Opportunities and Industry Trends Insights through 2017-2026”

Fact.MR recently published a Market Research report that attempts to forecast the future of the Wet Wipes industry. Let’s break down some important key components of the report:

  • There’s a wipe for everything: skincare (makeup removing, anti-acne, anti-aging, soothing, etc.), bathroom care, specialty wipes for men (and their beards), pet care, home and auto cleaning and many more. Companies that used to only offer one type of wipe are now venturing into various profitable markets and offering new types of wipes to many industries.
  • “Convenience and portability associated with packaging of consumer wet wipes are considered to be imperative factors influencing their purchases, as compact packaging, such as travel packs, enhances portability and reduces the overall cost of the product”- Abhishek Budholiya, Tactical Business
  • Online retailing is expected to be a huge factor in the forecasted increase in wet wipe sales
  • Fact.MR estimates that more than 394,000 thousand units of consumer wet wipes are expected to be sold across the globe by 2026-end

So, what is the takeaway from all of this for wastewater/environmental industry enthusiasts? We know and understand the damages and labor associated with un-doing the mess caused by flushed wipes in our sewer systems. In order to protect our pipes from further damage while the wet wipe industry continues to grow we must:

  • Push for proper labeling (no more “flushable”!)
  • Urge wide-spread acceptance and use of trash bins in all restroom stalls, regardless of gender
  • Educate communities on proper wipes disposal (in the trash bin, not the toilet!)
  • Inform the public about the consequences and dangers of flushing wipes and all other non-flushables to pipes and treatment facilities
  • Equip our treatment facilities with the proper tools to combat the potential influx of wipes in our pipes

Read the article here.

Catering Teams Urged To Ditch Reliance On Wet Wipes

 

Catering companies rely on quick, effective, and portable cleaning methods, so it’s no surprise that for their ease of use, food service teams around the globe turn to wet wipes and pre-moistened cleaning cloths. From moist hand wipes and napkins to industrial antibacterial cloths for the bathroom and kitchen, wipes are a favorite in this industry. In a recent survey conducted by Lanes Group, a staggering number of individuals reported to not disposing of wipes properly, despite knowing their harmful effects on sewer systems; 31% of surveyed individuals admitted to flushing wipes down the toilet and a staggering 52% claimed that they were very aware of the dangers in this practice.

“…we know that people are doing this [flushing wipes] on a large scale, and many problems that our engineers deal with at catering venues are the result of blockages caused by inappropriate products being flushed down toilets – rather than being disposed of in a bin.”

Michelle Ringland, head of Marketing for the drain cleaning and repair specialist, Lane Group, encourages catering managers and teams to begin making a change and starting with themselves. She recommends educating staff on the matter in order to lead to a ripple effect, “Informing cleaning staff of the correct way to dispose of single-use wipes and highlighting the risks of flushing could have an immediate impact on the problem.” In conjunction with education, Michelle suggests that new facility changes be made to ensure compliance: disposal units in bathroom stalls for personal hygiene items, and reusable cleaning cloths that are color coded for the area and solution they are to be used on. Not only does this cut down on waste and eliminate plumbing clogs, it’s also a more cost effective solution to the expensive disposable cloths.

Read more the full article on Catering Today.

Baby Wipes Create Massive Fatberg Blockage in Detroit

100-Foot Mass Excavated from Major Metropolitan City Sewer

Another massive fatberg has reared its ugly head in a major city in the United States – but this time, the city of Detroit plans to use it as a huge teaching lesson. Earlier this month, public works officials in Macomb County discovered a 100-foot long, 11-foot wide, and 6-foot tall clump of baby wipes, fat and grease imbedded into the sewer; the largest fatberg ever recorded in the 27 cities and townships that make up Macomb County in Michigan.

But this story has a happy ending: public works officials plan to display the fatberg at an upcoming press conference at the Clintondale Pump Station in efforts to educate homeowners and businesses about the dangers of flushing wipes and other non-flushables down the sewers.

Read the full story, here.

Retail Giants Sued over “Flushable” Wipe Claims

 

Retail giants Target, Walmart, Costco and CVS are under fire after multiple allegations of “flushable” moist wipes clogging sewers.

A homeowners association located in New York claims that several brands of wet wipes have single-handedly caused the state $18 million in damages PER YEAR. The HOA is suing the manufacturers and retailers until the labels on the packages are removed or until the wipe composition is changed to actually be flushable.

Read the full article here.

Coming to a Men’s Restroom Near You…

UK to introduce sanitary bins to men’s restrooms after wet wipes wreak havoc in London’s Victorian sewage pipes.

Surprise! Men, you may begin seeing sanitary bins in public restrooms across the UK very soon. In the past, trash receptacles were believed to only be necessary in women’s restrooms for sanitary product disposal. However, after the damage that London has experienced recently with the fatberg clog in London’s Victorian sewage system, the Greater London Assembly’s Environmental Committee has deemed it necessary to begin introducing trash receptacles into men’s restrooms to provide a place to toss their wet wipes and non-flushables.

“Across the UK, more than 11bn wet wipes are used a year, up by a quarter from five years ago, and many people are unaware that they can’t be flushed. About 4bn disposable nappies are used, and sales of unflushable incontinence products, for men as well as women, has gone up by 50% to more than 1bn a year as the population ages. And in most public loos and toilets in restaurants, bars or offices, men have nowhere to dispose of such items except down the pan.”

Read the full article.

Welch Water Warns of 5 Month Fatberg Clearing Project

Utility company, Welch Water, heads underground for deep excavations in the city of Cardiff Bay to begin 5 month fatberg clearing project.

A giant greaseball mixed with trash, including wet wipes, has clogged the city sewer in Cardiff Bay, Wales. Engineers are launching the excavation project of the underground clog which is said to cost a whopping £2million and take approximately 5 months to clear.

During this extended period of time, Welch Water warns nearby businesses of possible odor problems as they work to remove the blockage.

Sewage clogs from fatbergs and wet wipes cost the UK approximately £80million per year to clear the obstructions.

What exactly are ‘Fatbergs’?

Fatbergs are blockages made up of flushed fat, oil, grease and other flushed waste such as wet wipes and illegal drugs. They form into huge concrete-like slabs and can be found beneath almost every UK city, growing larger with every flush. They also include food wrappers and human waste, blocking tunnels – and raising the risk of sewage flooding into homes.

Read the full article, here: