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  • Water companies complain to Trading Standards

    We have today joined other UK water companies in complaining to Trading Standards over misleading packaging of wet wipes and other sanitary products claiming to be “flushable”.

    These so called "flushable" products cause misery to millions of people around the world by blocking sewers and contributing to floods in their homes and wider environment.

    Matt Wetwipes mountain

    Toilets are designed for the three Ps only - poo, pee and (toilet) paper. A global statement has been signed by more than 200 companies in 17 countries, outlining the water industry's current position regarding flushable labelled products.

    The international statement recommends that consumers must be given clear and unambiguous information about appropriate disposal methods of products.

    In the UK alone water companies estimate it costs £88 million a year to unblock sewers, and more than half of blockages are exacerbated by wipes and hygiene products. This does not include the human and environmental impact and cost.

    Last month we lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), calling on supermarkets and manufacturers to stop labelling wet wipes as "flushable". Quite simply, they don't break down in the same way as regular toilet paper.

    We have since been advised that this is not something the ASA will investigate, so the complaint is being referred to Trading Standards. This has been backed by Water UK's 21 st Century Drainage Programme.

    Matt Wheeldon, director of assets and compliance for Wessex Water, said: "We are called to resolve more than 13,000 blockages a year on the public sewer system in our region, with thousands more blockages on customers' own drains.

    "By far the biggest offenders are wet wipes, and we frequently hear from customers who have flushed them and have had their homes or gardens flooded as a result.

    "Some manufacturers claim their products meet 'flushability protocols', yet the reality is that they have made up these protocols themselves - not the sewerage companies who have the horrible job of unblocking the sewers."

    Sarah Mukherjee, director of environment at Water UK, said: "There are strong views from customers and water companies that manufacturers need to take action to stop calling wet wipes "flushable" and help prevent sewer flooding.

    "The financial and emotional cost of a sewer flood in your home is awful and surely it is worth taking every step possible to prevent this happening?"








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