Stop flushing wet wipes, so we can stop the fatbergs

A fatberg found in the sewerage pipes in Sydney source: Sydney Water
A fatberg found in the sewerage pipes in Sydney source: Sydney Water

JUST use toilet paper. 

That's the message from water utilities and CHOICE as wet wipes continue to be flushed down toilets and block sewage systems across the world.

These chunks of material -- which fails to break down unlike paper -- form enormous clumps of fabric and oil, creating the so-called "fatbergs".

Some of the worst of these fatbergs have been pulled from sewerage systems in London and Sydney, but they also appear in regional centres.

On the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Unitywater has previously warned it has pulled 1035 tonnes of wet wipes from the sewerage system in 12 months, the equivalent of about 800 small cars.

A fatberg found lurking in Sydney's sewers source: Sydney Water
A fatberg found lurking in Sydney's sewers source: Sydney Water

Wipes manufacturer Kimberly-Clark now claims its new "flushable" range of products will work better. But these still don't break down once they disappear from view, according to CHOICE. Meaning they will steal create fatbergs.

Sydney Water has its own campaign running about flushing only the "Three Ps" when using the toilet.

If it's not paper, pee or poo, don't put it in the toilet.

For those who opt to use the new "flushable" range of products, expect more sewerage blocks.

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey told Fairfax Media the original product was meant to be safe to flush and they weren't. Now this new variant are supposed to be safe to flush, and they still aren't.

""Kleenex seems to have an obsession with trying to convince people to flush these products, when the fact is they can clog up your pipes and be rough on your wallet," Choice's media spokesperson Tom Godfrey said.

He said while the new ones break down quicker than the old ones, they still take too long.

"Kleenex CleanRipple Flushable Wipes cannot be considered entirely safe to flush."

And imagine if it's your street's sewerage system that needs to be cleared of "fatbergs".

As Adam Lovell from the Water Services Association of Australia put it earlier this year:

"Fatbergs are horrible - they're basically absolutely huge, tonnes in weigh ... and what happens is of course these fatbergs contain quite a lot of these wipes that make them even bigger," he said.

"You've got to rip roads, you've got to rip out footpaths and parks to get these things out. They're certainly not the most pleasant thing to look at and not the most pleasant thing to smell either."

A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman said the wipes were made from paper, so would break up faster than its earlier products.

The wipes also met guidelines which showed they had the ability to break down when flushed through council sewer systems. 

Topics:  toilet wet wipes

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