Toilet flushing

Sydney Water’s new campaign, Toilet Blockers Anonymous, is designed to tackle blockages caused by customers flushing waste which costs the utility around $27 million a year.

The campaign reminds people to only flush the three Ps (pee, poo and toilet paper) in order to avoid costly and environmentally damaging chokes and blockages.

Sydney Water spends around $27 million a year dealing with up to 20,000 network blockages caused by people flushing household waste products like dental floss, hair, paper towels, non-flushable wet wipes and other items.

Sydney Water’s Head of Wastewater and Environment, Iain Fairbairn, said the campaign uses humour to address a serious issue and encourage people to change their behaviours.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of chokes occurring in our network over the last 12 months,” Mr Fairbairn said.

“We are creating an opportunity for people to start an uncomfortable conversation about their toilet habits.

“Some people don’t think twice about flushing a tissue or dental floss, but the reality is non-flushable wet wipes, fats, oils and grease, as well as items like cotton buds and sanitary products are a significant threat to our wastewater network.

“Around 75 per cent of wastewater blockages involve rubbish that should be put in a bin and not flushed down the toilet.

“It’s all about highlighting the simple things our customers can do to avoid expensive plumbing bills and protect the environment by remembering ‘a blocked loo is on you’,” Mr Fairbairn said.

Sydney Water said its crews have already attended more than 3,699 jobs, at a cost of $917 per choke, from January to April 2024.

“If we work together, the impact on our environment and the cost to customers will be significantly reduced,” Mr Fairbairn said.

The most recent customer data shows men aged between 18 and 29 are the biggest culprits when it comes to flushing rubbish down the loo.

“Some people are not aware how much damage flushing the wrong thing down the toilet can do,” Mr Fairbairn said.

The campaign features a group of toilet blockers who flush a variety of items that do not break down and contribute to the most significant blockages. The group is struggling with the temptation to flush inappropriate waste down their toilets.

Sydney Water said its crews responding to chokes in the wastewater network over the past 12 months have found items including:

  • Vapes
  • A kayak
  • Kids’ toys (dinosaurs, Barbies, pop toys, fairies, sharks etc)
  • Tea towels
  • Rags
  • Face masks
  • Chocolate/lolly wrappers
  • Sanitary items
  • Plastic bags
  • Duct tape
  • Golf balls
  • Nappies
  • Jewellery
  • Teeth
  • Car Keys
  • Crayons


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