There is such a thing as a flushable wet wipe: It's designed to weaken after flushing and degrade biologically in wastewater treatment systems. Unfortunately, baby wipes, household cleaning wipes, and many other disposable consumer products aren't made from this type of material. They maintain their strength long after being flushed and can be a leading cause of clogs. Numerous findings, most recently the 2017 Water UK Study, show consumers are confusing disposability with flushability. A 2016 NYC Study found that 98% of what was collected from wastewater treatment plant screens consisted of nonflushable items such as paper towels and feminine hygiene products in addition to wet wipes.
To lessen the burden on wastewater infrastructure, INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry and EDANA are making two documents available to download at no charge from their websites:
- The updated "Code of Practice: Communicating Appropriate Disposal Pathways for Nonwoven Wipes to Protect Wastewater Systems, Second Edition, 2017 (Code of Practice for labeling)." This new edition requires that nonflushable wipes display the “Do Not Flush” symbol on wipe packaging such that it is viewable on shelf at the point of purchase and visible each time a wipe is removed from its dispenser package. Pilot programs conducted by wastewater utilities and INDA have demonstrated that focused consumer awareness campaigns can reduce baby wipe flushing by ~50%.
- Edition Four of the Guidelines for Assessing the Flushability of Disposable Nonwoven Products includes seven flushability assessment tests related to performance in pipes, pumps, and both household septic systems and municipal wastewater treatment systems. Products may only be labeled “flushable” if they meet the demands of all seven tests. This new edition updates certain test methods and criteria for passing. These tests are grounded in significant research and testing carried out by INDA members and technical experts with extensive input from wastewater professionals.
Full and individual test methods are free to INDA and EDANA members and available for a fee to nonmembers. For more information about flushability issues, visit www.responsibleflushingalliance.com.
About INDA: INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, serves hundreds of member companies in the nonwovens/engineered fabrics industry in global commerce. Since 1968, INDA networking events have helped members connect, innovate, and develop their businesses. INDA educational courses, market data, test methods, consultancy, and issue advocacy help members succeed by providing them the information they need to better plan and execute their business strategies. For more information, visit http://www.inda.org/, or download the INDA app for immediate updates.
About EDANA: EDANA helps its members to design their future, serving 252 companies in the nonwovens and related industries, across 33 countries. Its mission is to create the foundation for sustainable growth of the nonwovens and related industries through active promotion, education and dialogue.