Stop flushing wet wipes and Yorkshire puddings down the loo, pleads water company
- Credit: Archant
Think about what you flush down the toilet - that is the message from a water company as it revealed 800 tonnes of wet wipes block our drains every week.
Nicola Harvey, public relations and media manager at Anglian Water, said wet wipes have become a huge issue in the east of England and are the main causes of monstrous fatbergs blocking our sewers.
She said: “We deal with 40,000 blockages a year and 80% of these are caused by things such as wet wipes and sanitary products – costing Anglian Water £19million a year.”
Grease, fats and oils solidify in the sewage system and combine with things like wet wipes to create massive fatbergs, which clog up the system and can only be removed by hand.
Anglian Water is now advising people to only flush the three P’s - ‘pee, poo and paper’ - and to simply bin anything else.
Alongside other water companies such as Water UK, it has also launched the Fine to Flush standard which differentiates between wet wipes that can be broken down and those which cannot.
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This involves testing the wipes by putting them in a replica of a sewerage system and seeing whether they can break down, depending on whether they contain any plastic.
There is currently only one company signed up to the standard, called natracare, which will be selling entirely plastic-free wet wipes in UK stores next month.
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The wipes will be the first to feature the Fine to Flush symbol, giving customers the confidence that they will not be adding to fatbergs that are being discovered up and down the country.
When asked about the volume of wet wipes being flushed, Ms Harvey said: “It’s very confusing for a consumer as they are often labelled as being flushable.
“This simply means they meet the manufacturers standards and are okay to flush down toilets. However it doesn’t mean they are able to break down in the system and this is the problem.
“A number of wet wipes and baby wipes contain plastic to make them strong - but it is important that we educate consumers that this plastic makes them ‘unflushable’ and causes extreme blockages.”
Ms Harvey also said that Anglian Water has been finding more and more unusual things in drains, including the recent discovery of Yorkshire Puddings in a drain in Ipswich.
She added: “I just don’t get why you would put something like a Yorkshire Pudding down a toilet or a sink? People need to stop flushing things like wet wipes and now Yorkshire Puddings too.
“I think these fatbergs and blockages are caused by a mixture of people being lazy and consumers being unsure of what they can and can’t flush down the toilets.”
In the UK, water companies say that it costs around £100million a year to unblock sewers which have been clogged by such products.