Despite convenience, wet wipes are costing Sydney Water $8 million a year in clean-up costs.
Although some products being marketed as flushable, Sydney Water’s Peter Hadfield said they were “anything but”.
“They get past the s-bend [of the toilet], but they don’t break down and we’re taking out 500 tonnes of wipes from the system a year,” he said.
“It seems to be a growing trend.”
The wipes can combine with fats, oils and other debris to create giant blockages, or ‘fatbergs’ in the sewer.
Every year, 500 tonnes of wet wipes are removed from the Sydney Water network.
Nick Fogarty from the Cronulla waste water treatment plant has the task of clearing thousands of wipes from the sewerage system every day.
He said some people had little regard for the problems the wipes were creating for his team.
“People think we’re pretty much invisible. They flush the toilet and [the wipes are] gone. We’re not invisible, we have to deal with it so … stop it!” he said.
Sydney Water said the wipes were also affecting household pipes, with one customer recently forking out $16,000 to repair damage caused by a major blockage.
Mr Hadfield said customers should ignore the claims on packaging and dispose of all wipes in the bin.
“We have a saying … the only things that should go down the toilet are the three Ps; pee, paper and poo,” he said.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is currently investigating the use of the term flushable in the marketing of certain products.
The Food and Grocery Council, which represents manufacturers, said it supported measures to educate consumers.
“A number of member companies are already providing a range of information including on-pack labeling and online communications to inform consumers as to the correct use of their products,” a spokesman said.
Melbourne too are experiencing very similar problems creating unnecessary jobs for plumbers and costing home owners a lot of money.
For more advice and in the event that you may experience a blockage or other plumbing issues in Melbourne please call the beOnd Plumbing team on 1300 599 529.