We’re going to take a bit of time and liberty to dive a little deeper into something we touched on in a recent blog post. I have a feeling this may get a little up close and personal, but plumbing inevitably leads to some things that are up close and personal. Let’s all take a deep breath and dive right in…so to speak. (So many puns and so little time).
Let’s talk about those little wonders called “Flushable Wipes”. Wipes were originally created in the mid 1950’s as an easy way to accommodate our nation’s obsession with convenience, and give us the ability to clean up the messes of the little ones in our lives while on the go. We could wrap them up in the disposable diapers and conveniently throw it all in the closest odor-proof receptacle. Fast forward a little over 50 years and companies began marketing these wonder wipes to adults AND calling them flushable.
In fact the personal wet-wipes industry had sales over $2.2 billion in 2015. “Wish I had a stake in that industry” you say. “What’s the big deal” you say.
Let’s start with what these “bio-degradable” wipes are made of. Most flushable wipes are made up of plastics and synthetic cellulosic fibers, both of which are not degradable. Aside from being a self-regulating industry, which allows for some freedom in labeling, only a small portion of the wipe has to be bio-degradable. To break this down, the majority of these wipes don’t break down! This is wreaking havoc for city sewer systems and for personal plumbing.
These wipes do claim to be safe to flush and easy on your personal sewer system. Just because it says it’s flushable, doesn’t mean it is. We have been on many calls where wipes clogged the pipes. They are beginning to create a back-up in our sewer systems, so much so that some American cities are taking on the industry and beginning to file lawsuits.
You see when these little lovelies don’t break down, then they just build up.
The wipes may leave your lovely abode through the pipes and head to the main sewer system. This system is set up with piping which leads the waste in one direction, away from your home. The problem begins when you, your neighbor and your neighbor 3 houses down are all using these “flushable” addictions. When they continue to fill the pipes the water starts backing up, maybe all the way into your home. When/if they make it the wastewater plant and they aren’t truly bio-gradable? They clog the giant sewer pipes and create what is known as a “fatberg”, because they cluster with congealed food fat. Just last year a 10-ton lump was removed from the London sewer system. We’re talking a gross nasty mess!! Our municipal sewer systems and your home plumbing were not built to handle this rising addiction.
Currently there are cities who are beginning to take on the flushable wipe industry because of the time, cost and literal mess it is creating for the municipality. What about you, the homeowner, consumer and lover of the flushables? We’re not saying you can’t contribute to the rise of this market and leave your bathroom feeling oh so refreshed. We’re just saying throw those little wiping wonders in the trash. Remember, just because it says it’s flushable doesn’t mean it should be. We’re here to help out if you have flushed the un-flushable.