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  • Writer's pictureHandsome Hank

Personal Wipes May Clean Out Canadian Bank Accounts

A grim look at what wipes can do to our sewage systems

It’s baffling what people are willing to flush down their toilets. At Megan Drew, we’ve truly seen it all. Chicken wings, apple cores, newspapers, life savings… you get the point. But with today’s social consciousness focused on preserving water, as a whole, you’re far more informed on what should and shouldn’t be flushed because manufacturers let you know.

Unfortunately, according to a report done by the CBC in 2013, manufacturers may be leading you astray—especially when it comes to “flushable” wipes. Waste-water utilities across Canada claim personal wipes as the prime culprit of nasty sewer clogs. Worst of all? These brutal clogs are costing Canadians a minimum of $250 million a year.

These added marketing efforts to “freshen” up our nether regions are giving sewage experts fits with the damage they appear to be causing. Still, manufacturers are holding firm that the “flushable” labels are fact, and not savvy marketing fiction.

Regardless, the Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group (MESUG) wants to put forth a country-wide initiative to legislate honest labelling on wipes and other “flushable” items such as toilet cleaning sponges, tampon applicators, and even some multi-ply toilet papers.

Biodegrading Your Money

Sewage experts are bemoaning the fact that while “flushable” wipes may go down the toilet with the ease at which you sip single malt scotch, they don’t disintegrate. Meaning, they are causing serious blockages in our decrepit sewage systems on their journey to the treatment plants.

It's believed that the estimate of a $250 million is on the low end of what these items could cost Canadians. Wipes in particular are a $6 billion industry and it’s continually on the rise, meaning more damage lies in wait. While manufacturers in Canada do voluntarily test these products, they don’t require third-party assessment or verification.

Sewage experts aim to push manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson, and Nice-Pak towards solutions.

Uncompromising Corporations Plugging the Pipelines

While the efforts of sewage experts have been tireless in quelling these issues, corporations aren’t exactly cooperating. Despite the hard evidence, Kimberly-Clark spokesperson Eric Bruner stated unequivocally that his company works with the waste-water community to create the safest, flush-friendly product available, and that they stand behind their product.

Manufacturers believe they’ve been given a raw deal, and sewage inefficacies are the result of other, non-flushable items. Bruner is essentially passing the buck. And Nice-Pak has cited four relevant forensic studies that haven’t found flushable wipes in clogs, and that damage is mostly due to baby wipes, hard-surface wipes and other non-flushable items.

I should be noted that Consumer Reports tested a list of “flushable” wipes that showed no signs of disintegration after flushing as of 30 minutes, whereas toilet paper broke down after about eight seconds.

Now That You're Flush with Information...

With conflicting research, it’s hard to decide who’s on the level. But you need to consider who has the most to lose in this scenario. Corporations are going to do what they can to prove the validity of their product because they don’t want to fall off their gravy train. Conversely, what do our sewage experts have to gain?

For some food for thought, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has spent over $1 million on grinders that shred wipes prior to reaching pumps. They’ve also invested immeasurable man hours into pipe and sewer line repairs due to blockages caused by wipes.

Wipes are also a prevalent problem in the UK, as a 15-tonne blob of wipes and cooking was discovered in a London sewer pipe after residents complained their toilets wouldn't flush.

It’s clear the corporations won’t cave and they’ll pass the blame to “other” wipes. Now that you have the facts, you can make the informed decision on whether you need these wipes and if they are good for our sewage systems.

As we said earlier, we’re no strangers to toilets being clogged by bulky items. We’re also no strangers to sump pump installations, faucet installations, and every other plumbing job under the sun. So, if you’re looking for the best plumber Markham has to offer for any plumbing project, contact us through our website!

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