Recent news stories have headlined, “Kimberley Clarke has been dumped on,” and “Enough wipes to stretch from Brisbane to Bali,” and “The ACCC’s actions have left the toilet seat up for other lawsuits.” The issue with the wipes is, however, no laughing matter, even if they are great fodder for witty copy.
‘Flushable’ wipes clogging pipe systems cost water utilities and private residents millions of dollars, hence the interest in legal action being taken against the manufacturers. One investment property company stated that their costs to date in plumbing fees is over $2000!
There are contradictions emanating from either the manufacturers or the testing authorities INDA (International Non-Wovens and Disposables Association) and EDANA (European Disposables and Non-Wovens Association) and their ‘flushability’ guidelines. One side states that the wipes have been manufactured in such a way that they disintegrate in the process of moving from the toilet to the sewerage pipes then through to the water treatment plants. The other side says that the wipes are NOT biodegradable and they are clogging the pipes.
Strangely enough, Australia has no official Flushability Guidelines and the manufacturers base their advertising claim on INDA.
Residents and utility company representatives are not making up the story that flushable wipes are clogging the pipes. News videos exist showing huge clumps of wet wipes being cleaned out of sewers and from treatment plants. The logical reason for that is because they DO NOT disintegrate when flushed and they ARE NOT biodegradable.
It makes for an interesting case because the ACCC is not really going after the manufacturers; they are ultimately going to refute the testing carried out by INDA and on whose guidelines the manufacturer bases their advertising.
- Is the water in other countries different to the water in Australia?
- Does the water overseas have an acidic base?
- Are other countries not having the same problem with so-called flushable wipes?
- Should INDA be getting some serious flak about their testing?
And what is the opinion of the plumbing industry? It’s they who have to keep the pipes clean and the systems unblocked. We all acknowledge that some plumbing jobs are a little more unsavoury than others, but the task of clearing out those unflushable flushable wipes probably comes way down their list of favourite call-outs.
Comments made in the Plumbing Connection in 2012, and continued over the past four years, have tried to call the government’s attention to what seems to be a clear case of false advertising.
The wipes market is worth approximately $US13 billion so when will the real testing be done and changes made to the manufacturing process to make flushable wipes, well, really flushable?
There is a lot of interesting reading available online that clearly shows the so-called flushable wipe is not working in other countries either. Where did INDA run their tests and on what material?
Plumbing Connection sums it up:
“A recent marketing exercise conducted in both Sydney and Melbourne by Kleenex aimed to align the company’s wipes with comfort and luxury. But there is nothing luxurious about clogged pipes. And after repeated calls in the past by Plumbing Connection to the manufacturer for scientific evidence to back up claims of the wipes breaking down in sewerage systems and septic tanks, we were merely brushed aside.”
In the meantime, if after reading this article you will to continue to flush these ‘flushable’ wipes, and you live in the Sydney North Shore or Northern Beaches, JEDI Plumbing will be on hand to unclog your toilet! When that time comes, you can call us on 0411 774 381.