wet wipes

A new trial is under way to test the ‘flushability’ on consumer products like wipes and paper towel to help create Australia’s first National Standard for products labelled ‘flushable’. 

Testing has started in Australia’s largest replica sewer at Queensland Urban Utilities’ Innovation Centre at the Luggage Point Resource Recovery Centre. 

Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson, Michelle Cull, said scientists were using the one-of-a-kind facility to study how wipes break down in the sewer network.

“Wipes don’t disintegrate quickly like toilet paper and can cause blockages not only in your household plumbing but also in our sewer network,” Ms Cull said. 

“Creating a new National Standard will lead to clearer labelling and give consumers confidence that they’re only flushing products which will break down after they’re flushed. 

“Until then, the best advice is to only flush the Three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper.”

Last year, Queensland Urban Utilities removed around 120 tonnes of wet wipes – which is the equivalent of 34 hippos – from the sewer network. 

Queensland Urban Utilities sits on the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) Standards Committee, which is hoping to have the new National Standard finalised by the end of 2019 to replace industry self-regulation.

The National Standard will cover the ‘flushability’ of not just wipes, but other disposable products such as tampons, cotton buds, kitty litter, paper towels and single-use toothbrushes.

Before joining the Utility team, Eliza worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years. Eliza has the rare talent of being able to find the nuggets of gold in otherwise average source material, and like any self-respecting member of gen-Y is a whiz when it comes to social media marketing and management.

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