Water UK are asking people for one change in habit; If you use a wet wipe, put it in the bin and not down the toilet to support Bin The Wipe. In today’s modern world, wipes have become a popular convenience item for various purposes, from personal hygiene to household cleaning. However, what many people don’t realise is that these seemingly harmless wipes can cause damage on our sewage systems.
The Myth of 'Flushability'
One of the major problems with wipes is the misconception of their ‘flushability’. While there are some wipes that are labelled as “flushable,” they do not disintegrate as easily as toilet paper. Wipes are often made from synthetic plastic materials like polyester or polypropylene, which do not break down quickly. These can cause blockages and clogs in the our sewage pipes, which can lead to costly repairs.
Clogs and Blockages
When wipes are flushed down the toilet, they can pile up and create blockages in the sewage system. These blockages not only affect individual households but also cause substantial issues for the sewage network. These can result in sewer overflows, leading to environmental pollution, health risks, and very unpleasant smells. Water UK reported that wipes make up around 93% of the material caused sewer blockages, with a high portion of these being baby wet wipes – which are not designed to be flushed. There are approximately 300,000 sewer blockages every year and clearing these requires extensive manual labour and specialised equipment, costing local councils and taxpayers over £100 million which could be better used elsewhere.
The impact of wipes goes beyond clogged pipes and overflowing sewage systems. When wipes enter the sewage network, they add to pollution in our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Marine life can mistake them for food and the chemicals and plastic in wipes can contaminate the water and harm aquatic ecosystems. By flushing wipes, we are directly contributing to damaging the environment.
A Burden on Sewage Treatment Plants
Wipes that make their way to sewage treatment plants can create significant challenges. These plants are constructed to treat human waste and biodegradable materials effectively. So when non-degradable wipes enter the system, they can clog filters, reduce efficiency, and therefore increase maintenance costs.
Wipes may seem harmless, but their impact on the sewage system is extremely damaging. Flushing wipes down the toilet leads to clogs, blockages, environmental pollution, and therefore increased costs for individuals and local councils. It is essential for each one of us to take responsibility and choose sustainable alternatives to wipes, here at CountyClean Group we support the ban on wipes containing plastic and the ‘Bin the Wipe’ campaign.