Keep wipes out of pipes

June 28, 2019

Icon Water respects today’s Federal Court judgement in relation to ‘flushable’ wipes.

“Despite this decision, the vast majority of cleaning wipes do not break down quickly enough to be suitable for flushing,” said Gerard Brierley, Icon Water’s acting General Manager, Infrastructure Services.

“The only things that should be flushed down your loo are the three Ps – Pee, Poo and toilet Paper,” he said.

“Our sewerage system is a highly effective essential service, treating sewage from more than 400,000 Canberrans to such a high standard that we can return it to the Murray-Darling Basin river system via Australia's largest inland sewage treatment facility. 

“We have more than 3300 kilometres of sewerage pipes in Canberra, as well as pumps and other assets. If the wrong things, like wet wipes, go down the sewer we can see blockages and even overflows that can really affect residents.

“Wipes can clog the pipes in your home – and can be expensive and embarrassing to have fixed – but if they block Canberra’s sewerage system it is a cost that we all bear.”

In December 2016, following its investigation into marketing and labelling of wet wipes products labelled ‘flushable’, the ACCC instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Kimberly-Clark and separately against Pental Limited and Pental Products Pty Ltd. The ACCC alleged the companies made false or misleading representations in relation to ‘flushable’ wipes they marketed and supplied in Australia.

The case against Pental was finalised when Pental admitted it had misrepresented wipes as flushable. The Court ordered Pental to pay penalties totalling $700,000.

There is currently no clear Australian Standard on flushability.

“Icon Water commends the work of the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), who are leading manufacturers, water utilities, peak bodies and consumer groups in the development of an Australian Standard defining flushability,” said Mr Brierley.

“WSAA estimates that blockages caused mainly by wet wipes are costing the urban water industry millions of dollars each year, not to mention the impacts on the environment from wipes being found in rivers and on beaches.

“While a flushability standard will give consumers greater guidance, the easiest thing is to remember is to only flush the three Ps – Pee, Poo and toilet Paper,” he said.

Read more on keeping wet wipes out of our network. 

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