For what seems like years, environmental groups and wet wipe manufacturers alike have been raising the issue of wet wipes being flushed down toilets. Manufacturers are often vilified for their role in producing the wipes when, in reality, when it comes to better educating people on why flushing wet wipes isn’t appropriate, said manufacturers are amongst the staunchest advocates!
Generally speaking, people are increasingly aware these days of their individual environmental responsibilities. Sadly, however, in 2021 stories still regularly pop up on the news, of sewers being blocked as a result of wet wipes being flushed down the drain. With that in mind, the team here at Guardpack, one of those aforementioned private label wet wipe manufacturers, wanted to reiterate just why that practise is so damaging.
The Dreaded ‘Fatberg’
A truly disgusting, though sadly not uncommon, phenomenon are fatbergs; giant masses of wet wipes, fat, grease and other waste matter that have solidified into one big clump. Whilst these accumulations of wipes and waste might not have the capacity to sink any cruise liners, they can be seriously problematic, blocking sewers entirely and causing lasting structural damage if not quickly dealt with.
Back in April earlier this year, for instance, a fatberg the height of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe was finally removed from under the streets of Plymouth, in Devon, after a month’s worth of specialist work and at a cost of almost £100,000! The non-degradable material had become so compacted that it took equipment like pick axes and crowbars just to make inroads into breaking through it.
Impacting On Nature
Flushing wet wipes down the toilet can also have a demonstrably negative impact on nature and wildlife. Studies on clam populations in the River Thames, for instance, have found a correlation between higher concentrations of wet wipes and reduced clam populations. The heaviness of the wipe material – made exponentially worse when sodden – smothers the sediments such species need to thrive; not only this, but the plastic fibres (like polyethylene and polyester) within the wipes end up getting ingested by marine wildlife and causing harm.
With the climate emergency as pressing as it now is, consumers and businesses alike need to be doing their bit in reducing the quantities of micro plastics entering our waterways and oceans. Binning wet wipes rather than flushing them is an integral step towards doing so.
A Reminder On The “Three P’s”
Here at Guardpack, we manufacture a lot of the products that you’re not meant to flush so trust us when we tell you what you can flush – it’s a very limited list! The three p’s is a fool proof list to go by, if ever you’re unsure. Pee, paper and poo should of course be flushed, but that’s it! That means no wet wipes, sanitary products, baby and hygiene wipes or makeup wipes. Another common mistake people make is that they take the word ‘biodegradable’ to therefore mean its flushable, which isn’t the case.
The confusion comes from the fact that people (rightly) assume biodegradable to mean that their wet wipes are going to break down naturally. The timescale over which that degradation takes place, however, can be anything from a few months to decades. In other words, they can still cause as much damage to sewerage systems as regular wet wipes, and should therefore be treated in the same manner.
“One Can’t Hurt?…”
Often, when people flush wet wipes down the toilet, they know deep down that they shouldn’t be, but they overcome that nagging morality by convincing themselves that “one wipe can’t hurt!”. The truth, though, is that even one flushed wet wipe can cause both sewerage problems and environmental issues. What’s more, you won’t be the only person fostering that mentality and those single wipes quickly build up into thousands upon thousands thanks to others telling themselves the exact same thing – that one can’t hurt! It can and it does; don’t do it!
EDANA Code Of Practice
Manufacturers such as Guardpack are also committed to following the Code of Practice set out by regulatory body EDANA. This includes the use of the Do not flush logo and the Tidy Man symbol on any products that could conceivably be flushed (such as wet wipes).
Remember, if ever you’re in doubt – don’t flush it, bin it! Even if the wet wipe product says it’s biodegradable. You can find out about Guardpack’s environmental commitments by clicking here. If you’d like to find out more about our role as a private label wet wipe manufacturer, then get in touch! Contact Guardpack today on 01245 505 807 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can fill out one of our online contact forms; we’ll get back to you as promptly as we can.