BLOG: Time to bin wet wipe waste

CCWater’s sewerage expert Steve Grebby explains why all of us need to take heed of the Marine Conservation Society’s latest campaign.

This week I was delighted to see the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) launch a campaign on an issue close to our heart at the Consumer Council for Water.

The charity’s Wet Wipes Turn Nasty When You Flush Them campaign has reignited the debate on the disposal of so-called ‘flushable’ wipes and the impact they can have on the environment when we choose to flush them down the loo.

According to the MCS nearly 4,000 wet wipes were found littered around UK beaches in 2015, posing a threat to any marine life that might swallow them.

This should concern all of us who care about the environment but there is also a more direct risk to consumers that we are keen to highlight.

Each year thousands of households endure the misery of seeing raw sewage flood their homes and in many cases it can be traced back to a blocked sewer pipe. Often these are caused by the build up of fat, oil and grease, but our growing tendency to flush wipes down the loo has intensified the pressure on the bowels of our sewers.

And it’s not just sewer flooding victims who bear the cost. Last year the ten sewerage companies in England and Wales spent more than £80 million clearing blockages caused by inappropriate items being flushed down the loo or poured down the sink. But it’s customers who pick up the tab through their water and sewerage bills.

One of the keys to cracking this issue is raising consumer awareness. Our research has revealed at least a third of consumers are unaware of what items they can safely dispose of down the loo or sink. Items like used wipes, nappies, tissues and condoms are routinely fished from our sewers, when they should only ever go in the bin.

Behind the scenes the water industry and CCWater are working closely together to help inform consumers and change behaviour, but in the meantime our message could not be clearer – IF YOU LOVE YOUR LOO, ONLY FLUSH PEE, PAPER AND POO.