The Consumer Council for Water has labelled a new bid to help consumers understand what wet wipes they can safely flush down the toilet as an important step towards ending sewer flooding.
The Water Watchdog has backed today’s launch of an official new water industry Fine to Flush symbol which will be awarded to plastic-free wipes that are proven to break down in the sewer and not clog up pipes. Manufacturers will only be able to feature it on their packaging once their product has passed strict laboratory tests.
It forms part of wider efforts by the sector – including CCWater – to rid the sewer system of ‘unflushable’ items including wet wipes, cooking fat, oil and grease, cotton buds and nappies which are responsible for the majority of the 300,000 blockages that happen each year.
Households end up footing the £100 million bill to clear these blockages, which can also result in homes and the environment being swamped with raw sewage.
Steve Grebby, Wastewater Policy Manager at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “It’s little wonder that so many wet wipes end up clogging up our sewers when consumers get mixed messages from product labelling but Fine to Flush has the potential to make things clearer.”
“Thousands of homes still experience the misery of sewer flooding and wet wipes and other ‘unflushables’ like cooking fat and cotton buds are often to blame for the blockage. Until consumers see Fine to Flush-labelled products hit supermarket shelves, we’d urge people to only flush the 3Ps – paper, pee and poo down the loo.”
The labelling of so-called ‘flushable’ products often paints a confusing picture for consumers but it’s not just wet wipes that can cause a pain in the drain.
Recent research by CCWater found 1 in 5 consumers still pour leftover cooking fat, oil and grease down the sink which can clog up private drains and public sewers.
The safest way to dispose of these substances is to allow them to cool in an old container – like a jam jar or butter tub – before scraping them into the bin.