Thames Water has welcomed the introduction of a new official standard to identify wet wipes which can safely be flushed down the toilet.
The ‘Fine to Flush’ logo will appear on products which have passed rigorous scientific testing to show they break up in the sewers, unlike most currently on the market which mix with cooking oil, grease and other unflushable items put down the drain creating thousands of blockages every year.
Despite many wet wipes being labelled flushable, this is often not the case so some people unwittingly put them in the toilet, leading to giant fatbergs developing underground which are expensive to clear and can have a devastating impact on the environment.
Thames Water’s Henry Badman said: “Each year we clear 75,000 blockages and wet wipes are a major contributing factor.
“The ‘Fine to Flush’ standard is great news that will help consumers understand what can be flushed and what must be put in the bin. If there is no logo, then only the three Ps should be put down the toilet – pee, poo and paper.”
The standard has been developed by industry body Water UK, which has worked with other water companies including Thames Water, and involves subjecting wipes to the same conditions which would be found if they were flushed.
Many currently on the market also contain plastic to hold them together but those which meet the ‘Fine to Flush’ standard must be plastic free.
Water UK Chief Executive Michael Roberts said: “This is an important step in the battle against blockages. We’ve all seen the impact of fatbergs recently, and we want to see fewer of them.
“Improving the environment is at the core of what the water industry does, and the new ‘Fine to Flush’ standard that we’ve created will make it easier for consumers to buy an environmentally-friendly product instead of one which clogs up drains and sewers.”
Manufacturers can have their wipes tested by Swindon-based company WRc, which employs independent technical experts, who developed the specifications for flushability standards in conjunction with Water UK. If they pass the tests, the wipes manufacturers will receive the ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol from WRc.
Within its 2020-25 business plan, Thames Water has committed to reducing the number of blockages it deals with every from 75,000 to 65,000.