The Costly Expense of Flushable Wipes

Sydney, Australia – A survey of consumers in the Illawarra region reports that there are at least one in four residents who flush wet wipes down the toilet, and the cost, is adding up.

As one D.C homeowner speculated, “the cost per sheet of flushable wipe is $1—meaning for every flushable wipe, $.10 is for the wipe, and $.90 goes to the plumber.” Sydney Water reports that frustrated residents are paying anywhere from from $300 to $16,000 for a clog or backup. The image below was sent to Sydney Water by a woman who spent $16,000 to fix her blocked pipe.

A blockage of wet wipes, also known as a fatberg, posted on Sydney Water's Facebook page by a woman who spent $16,000 ...

Each year, Sydney Water removes 500 tonnes of wipes from the wastewater network at a cost of $8 million. Clean-outs reportedly occur on a regular basis, and require specialized equipment and manual labor at a costly expense. The Water Services Association of Australia estimates wet wipes are costing water utilities $15 million per year.

Sydney Water workers at the Shellharbour sewage pumping station cleaning out a blockage of wet wipes. A spokesman said ...

Shellharbour sewage pumping station cleaning out a blockage of wet wipes. Photo: Illawarra Mercury

Part of the one-tonne wet wipes cluster removed from sewer pipes at the pumping station in Eleebana.

One-tonne of wet wipes being removed at Eleebana. Photo: Hunter Water

Sydney Water threatens legal action as wipes block drains
Fatbergs: One tonne balls of wet wipes and fat block sewers

Be a Flush Buster

Choice, a consumer advocacy group in Australia, tested the durability of these Kleenex flushable wipes for kids and adults. The Kleenex website promises that their wipes break down in the sewerage system like toilet paper however, when put to the test, they held together for over 21 hours.

To combat the false and misleading claims of these wipes manufacturers, Choice has started a campaign to stop them from marketing and selling wipes as “flushable”. You can join the movement, here!

Water Officials in East Rochester Warns Residents to Stop Flushing Wipes

A small town in Pennsylvania, East Rochester Borough experiences a build up of wipes in sewer lines and pump stations. About twice a month, workers will go in and clean out the wipes, however they can cause costly problems for the equipment. The town had recently spent $28,000 to replace two of their pumps that help with transporting sewage water into waste water treatment plants.

“I don’t think people don’t realize they don’t biodegrade, I’ve seen them in pump stations, and the sewer plants and stuff and they’ve been down there for more than a year.”
-Matt Sharpless, Maintenance Worker in East Rochester

East Rochester along with other Western Pennsylvania towns and cities, including Pittsburgh have seen similar problems. These cities strongly advise wipe users to watch what they flush and avoid flushing anymore wipes down the toilet.

Read the full article

Flushable Wipes are Costing Wessex Water Millions

ITV follows sewerage employees from Wessex Water, a water company based in UK to get further insight on how wipes are affecting operations. You can watch their interviews here.

According to Wessex Water, they spend millions of pounds each year as they try to clear clogs caused by flushed wipes. In the last year they’ve been called out to clear over 13,000 blockages. And research suggests a quarter of the blockages are from wipes labelled as “flushable”.

Wipes have to be fished out of raw sewage Credit: ITV News

Wipes have to be fished out of raw sewage Credit: ITV News

Read the Full Article Here

So-called Flushable Wipes & other products are not breaking down


There is no let down in sight of this persistent problem – “Flushable” Wipes. Here at JWC Environmental, we thrive to provide you with as much information on the incessant issues facing our water in America today and the forecast to come by staying up to date on the matter. The photo above look familiar?

Here’s a recent article we discovered interviewing Cynthia Finley of NACWA on this problem to which the photo is credited:

Flushable Wipes and Sewer Problems

Different pumps will react differently based on the way they operate, their age, and the volume of material being handled, says Finley. “Wastewater collection systems and treatment plants are so variable throughout the country and there are many different types of conditions you can encounter,” she adds.

get the rest

Our Solution? The Muffin Monster fitted with our latest Wipes Ready Technology. The Muffin Monster and pumps have been working hand in hand for decades to improve wastewater treatment efficiency globally.

Ask one of our Muffin Monster Experts, how we can upgrade your system and be rid of the “Wipes Problem” once and for all.

Ohio Flushable Wipes Class Action vs. Target

In an ongoing class action lawsuit between Target and lead plaintiff, Christopher Meta, allegations such as fraud and breach of implied warrant are made against Target’s Up & Up flushable wipes brand.

In this recent article, the motion that Target Corp. filed to dismiss the class action lawsuit gets shot down by Judge Donald C. Nugent. He instructs the company to turn over its sales and revenue data, stating that those numbers would be useful for calculating damages.

“The current motion, therefore, was not so much a motion for clarification as a motion for reconsideration,” the judge said. “In either event, it is denied.”

Read the Full Story

Backflow preventer Failure in North Liberty, Iowa

North Liberty Cleanup

In North Liberty, Iowa, homeowner Brent Smith experiences a sewage backup that floods into his basement due to a backflow preventer failure. When officials reach the scene, they find white tissue type paper, most likely adult wet wipes, clogging the pipelines.

Something that seems so simple that nobody really thinks about, we all take for granted. We turn the water faucet on, we flush the toilet, take a shower, it’s down and away, and you don’t ever think about it,” Smith said.

Resident Brent Smith is not alone in this issue as North Liberty officials have seen an increase of non-disposable wipes in the city’s pipes. To prevent sewage backups, Street’s Superintendent Don Colony heed others to get their backflow preventers serviced by a plumber every year and to watch what they flush down the toilet.

Watch the video


12 Days of Christmas Cloggings

Thames Water reminds us to watch what we flush, especially this holiday season. Any cooking grease, turkey drippings, gravy, or wipes should be disposed of properly in the trash bin. That will avoid any sewer clogs and backups, so these sewermen can get back to singing throughout the holidays.

How The Industry Can Take On Wipes In The Waste Stream – And Win

How The Industry Can Take On Wipes In The Waste Stream – And Win

Wastewater professionals are well aware that debris has changed significantly over the last ten years, either through first-hand experience or industry horror story. From the bus-sized fatberg festering within the London sewer system to the pending wipes lawsuit in Minnesota and public outreach efforts to change consumer behavior, municipalities the world over are feeling the overwhelming frustration caused by these seemingly innocent pieces of non-woven fabric. Not only is the waste running through our system tougher and more prevalent than ever before, our aging infrastructure simply can’t keep up. Undersized, original equipment is especially prone to clogging and breakdown, and gradual pipeline and channel deterioration compounds that problem exponentially.

Read Part 2 or Part 3 of this three-part series examining wipes in the waste stream.

Students at Mercy Win Ocean Hero Award

Three girls from Mercy secondary school in Ireland recently won the Ocean Hero Award for a campaign that helped raise awareness on environmental issues caused by flushed wipes. The inspiration for the idea came from a beach clean-up event where they discovered an average of 60 wet wipes per square meter, mostly tangled up in the seaweed.

Their campaign efforts was a combination of spreading awareness in social and local media as well as visiting primary schools to speak.

Read the full article here

How Cities are Combatting Fatbergs

Urbanized cities such as London, Denver, and New York are largely affected by fatbergs – forms of solidified cooking fat, oils, and grease (FOGs) that get mixed with wipes and other objects in the sewer system. These different solutions that the wastewater community have taken to combat the fatbergs are worth mentioning.

In London, workers will dispatch these fatbergs with spades, chemicals and high-pressure hoses. It is a manual process of hacking at the fatberg in order to break the solidified fat down to prevent clogged pipes and damaged infrastructure.

New York and Dallas has implemented programs to educate the public such as the Cease the Grease campaign.

In South Yorkshire Sheffield University, students have invented the “fatberglar”: a device under the sink, seeded with specially designed bacteria to degrade FOGs.

And in San Francisco and Atlanta, they’ve converted fatbergs into biodiesel fuel, which are used to power school buses, city vehicles and machinery.

Read the full story here

A PSA from Queensland Urban Utilities

This PSA by Queensland Urban Utilities looks like it belongs in a movie preview. The dramatic video effects creates an urgent warning for the dangers in flushing wipes. Watch as the video greatly illustrates the real issues at the wastewater treatment plants and what the workers there have to deal with on a daily basis!

Worldwide Trends on Wipes

The demand for wipes has rapidly spread across the world. According to a study by Reportbuyer, the world demand for wipes is predicted to grow 5.1% annually into 2018. The market growth expands to developing areas and key markets such as manufacturing and healthcare markets as they are expected to incorporate more cleaning and disinfecting practices.

This growth trend for wipes is driven by factors of urbanization and rises in income. Developed areas particularly with consumers who lead busier lifestyles, have higher demands for these convenience products. The US alone makes up almost one-fourth of sales worldwide with China closely behind in sales that nearly doubled from years 2008 to 2013.

Read the Trend Report

TPO’s Interview with INDA: Progress on Wipes Issue


Last month, TPO sat down with Dave Rousse, the president of INDA, to discuss the initiatives of the nonwoven fabrics industry and how the wipes are currently being addressed.

Wipes have always been an ongoing issue in the wastewater community, however it has worsened as the demand continues to grow. Flushability guidelines were first introduced in 2007 and since then, it has been redrafted three times with the most recent edition in 2013. The need for a stronger framework is undeniable with new advances in technology and collected data. INDA and the Water Environment Research Foundation representatives have already began discussions to restructure current guidelines.

Rousse is positive about the progress and steps taken in order to minimize the wipes issue. He states, “there is strong collaboration between my association and the major wastewater associations — NACWA, WEF, the American Public Works Association, and the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association… We are working collaboratively with them, sharing data and information, and discussing the true essence of the problems. I think we both better understand and appreciate the challenges each side has. ”

Read the Full Interview Here

What the settlement between FTC and Nice-Pak means for wipes

The California Water Environment Association recently reported on the agreed settlement between FTC and Nice-Pak regarding flushable wipes labeling. According to the article and the official FTC website, Nice-Pak has agreed to stop advertising moist toilet tissue as flushable unless it can substantiate that the product is safe to flush. Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the following in regard to the suit:

“The evidence didn’t back up Nice-Pak’s claim that their wipes were safe to flush. If you claim a product is flushable, it needs to flush in the real world, without clogging household plumbing or sewer and septic systems.”

The question of whether this will positively impact utilities remains to be seen, and some experts think it will make little difference. According to a recent blog post from the NACWA, the only thing that’s really going to make a difference here is a substantial change in consumer behavior:

“Too many people are flushing baby wipes and other types of wipes that are super strong and not designed to break down at all in a sewer system. This problem can only be solved with better product labeling and consumer education.”

We agree with the NACWA, and believe product labeling and consumer education are key elements in the fight against wipes. However, the third piece to solving this wipes crisis lies in utilizing technology that fully breaks down this tough material in the waste stream, before it can reach pumps.

View the official FTC’s consent order on Nice-Pak here

Talking wipes on Water Online Radio

Ken Biele - JWC Environmental

Ken Biele, CEO of JWC Environmental, discusses solutions to the growing problem of equipment-clogging disposable wipes on Water Online Radio at WEFTEC.

At a high level, JWC Environmental is “focused on solids reduction and screening equipment … grinding stuff up, making sure it keeps flowing through the pipes,” Biele explains to Water Online Radio.

That includes an array of solids, but the main target of late has been disposable wipes. Whether marked “flushable” or not, the wipes are clogging sewage-handling pumps nationwide as they become more popular with consumers.

Get the full interview here.

Monster Keeps Disposable Wipes at Bay: Billerica, MA

PROBLEM: Disposable Wipes clogging pumps during storms and maintenance SOLUTION: CDD4016 Channel Monster with Wipes Ready Upgrade

Massachusetts was facing a too familiar problem these days: Disposable Wipes clogging pumps during storms and maintenance!

Sound familiar?   They found their solution in JWC’s CDD4016 Channel Monster with a Wipes Ready upgrade. When one of Billerica, Massachusetts‘ largest pump stations, Brown Street Pump Station, faced the influx of disposable wipes, their routine cleanings spiked from 3x a week to 3x a day!

“Dealing with wipes has been nothing but a nightmare,” said Mike McCaughey, collections supervisor for Billerica.

They made the call to their local rep and since the installation of the Channel Monster with the Wipes Ready technology in 2014, the need for daily pump maintenance has been eliminated. Maintenance crews no longer have to take time away from planned projects in order to service the pumps at Brown Street and manually remove the clogs and ragballs from the equipment.

Read the full story here.

Having problems with wipes? Ask an Expert 

Stay up to date on Wipes News!

Judge Weinstein Refers ‘Flushable’ Trials to the FTC

Earlier this summer, Judge Jack Weinstein held a “science day” in his courtroom where experts in wipes were called to explain the technology behind the product. The two cases, Joseph Kurtz vs. Kimberly-Clark’s Cottonell brand wipes and Belfiore vs. Proctor & Gamble’s Charmin Freshmates came to a recent decision.

On this issue, Judge Weinstein remains impartial until the FTC states whether manufacturers are indeed misleading the public with their “flushable” labels.

Weinstein states this will save a lot of time and resources with this judgement from the FTC. He believes that, “whether wipes should be labeled ‘flushable’ is a national issue that requires a single national resolution.”

Read the Full Article Here >>

Ragball Contest Winners!

Congrats to our Ragball Contest’s grand prize winner, Jeff Baisch from Lake Stevens Sewer District and runner-up, Kim Spendlove from Ash Creek SSD! It was a hard decision between all entries but these winners definitely deserved the title for Nastiest Monster Ragball!

Thank you to everyone who entered and shared your stories with us. Check out the winning monsters below!

First Place – Ragball from Lake Stevens Sewer District

First Place – Ragball from Lake Stevens Sewer District

Runner Up – Two-Headed Ragball with Tentacles from Ash Creek SSD

Runner Up – Two-Headed Ragball with Tentacles from Ash Creek SSD

1 in 4 People in Sydney is Flushing Wet Wipes

An Australian consumer advocacy group, Choice investigates the flushable wipes issue and covers how it is affecting Australia’s plumbing system and consumer lifestyle decisions. In this video, Choice interviews wastewater faculty, plumbers, and real people to get the full scope of the issue.

In addition, Kate Browne talks further about the effects of wipes in Sydney homes and sewers and how the wipe industry is responding in this article.

A declaration of war on flushable wipes


source: Gold Coast Bulletin

GOLD Coast City Council has declared war on flushable wipes.

As Gold Coast states: Plumbers are being called out to unclog 20 – 30 clogged pipes a week. Not to mention that their sewage treatment plants are being shut down once a week for repair due to wipes damage. “As the city’s sewerage system is choked with great mounds of disposable wet wipes costing ratepayers millions of dollars every year to remove.”

From Sydney Water to Water Services Association of Australia to Gold Coast plumbers, they all agree: “People have got to stop flushing these wipes.”

Read the rest