Wet wipes—yes, even the ones that say “flushable,” condoms, feminine products, paper towels (and all the other stuff) that you flush down your toilet enters our sewer system and mixes with the grease that you have poured down your sink. This mix of personal hygiene products and grease can create “fatbergs” in our sewers.
The word “fatberg” combines the words “fat” and “iceberg” to describe the masses of congealed grease and personal hygiene products that have been found lingering in sewers around the world.
Flushable Wet Wipes Alternatives: Bidet, Gel, Water Bucket or Something Else?
Since the discovery of the germ theory of disease in the second half of the 19th century, hygiene and sanitation have been at the forefront of the struggle against illness and disease. Due to the current pandemic situation around the world, good personal hygiene is a hot topic again. Household and baby wipes demand soars amid COVID-19 crisis but it also brings international attention to the issue lurking beneath our feet. Wet wipes, originally used for cleaning babies, have grown in popularity in recent years and are increasingly marketed as a replacement for toilet paper.
Nowadays more and more adults are using wet wipes for improving their personal hygiene because they care about their bottom health and spotless underwear. However, while single use wet wipes are easy to use, environmental concerns have raised the need for alternatives.
The major disadvantages of wet wipes according to wastewater treatment specialists, plumbers, and environmental organizations include:
Bloomberg: “America’s Obsession With Wipes Is Tearing Up Sewer Systems”
U.S. municipalities shell out at least $1 BILLION annually on maintenance to remove clogs caused by wipes, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, a group that advocates for better water policies. In Charleston, South Carolina, the problem has gotten so bad during the pandemic that the city’s water management agency filed a lawsuit against major manufacturers and retailers, accusing them of falsely labeling some wipes as flushable.
New York City is calling on residents to “trash it. Don’t flush it.” King County, Washington, which is home to Seattle, has a similar message.
Global Committee of Water Experts Releases Flushability Guidelines
We welcome the release of new international guidelines for what can be flushed down the toilet. We support efforts in Australia to develop an Australian standard for flushable products. You should only flush the three P’s: pee, poo & paper.
The growth in the number of wipes and related products labeled “flushable” over the past 15 years has been a multi-million dollar headache for water utilities around the globe.