Are Wet Wipes Disposable and Flushable? No.
Wet Wipes are becoming an environmental worry. I bet every changing bag or kids day out backpack has a baby wipe in it. Ok, so the main benefits of wipes are convenience. Forget dry tissues! Designed to clean baby’s delicate skin to cleaning up those messy moments, but they are not all the same. Have you ever asked yourself how many you get through in a day or what is in them?
Part of our conversation today is that, even though we all know wet wipes should Never Go Down A Toilet, they seem to magically end up there.
Only flushing the 3 P’s; Pee, Poo & Paper is all you need to do to help us. Farmer Palmer’s rural location means we are not on mains drainage. We have a huge septic tank we fondly name “Marge the Barge”. She works incredibly well until customers decide to feed her with discarded wipes and sanitary items down the toilets.
Statistics to show a growing problem
Fortunately the media is successfully educating us on the plight of the planet due to single use micro beads and single use plastic bags. This is supported by conservationists, water authorities, DEFRA and the Government (see their 25-year Environment Plan ). Lets aim to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. Wet wipes could be next.
The wet wipes industry is now worth over £500 million in the UK alone. They often contain plastic, meaning they do not disintegrate like toilet paper. Used to remove make-up, replace toilet paper and apply fake tan, wet wipes that are flushed away rather than binned can cause serious problems for our sewers. Imagine the wipes and congealed cooking fat, together, blocking the drains around your home.
In a recent Thames litter pick (Feb 2019) 77% of it was wet wipes. That was 4,000 used wipes in just 400 meters of the river bank.
In 2014 the Marine Conservation Society said there were approx. 36 wipes per kilometer of beach in Britain – a 50% increase from 2013. Southern Water’s waste water treatment works in Kent removed over 2,00 tons of wet wipes.
A 2016 MCS National beach survey revealed nearly 4,000 wet wipes were collected by volunteers during the Great British Beach Clean. That’s a 30% rise on the previous year and a 400% rise in a decade.
Many sewage systems were built in Victorian times and are not designed to cope with wet wipe waste. Biodegradable or flushable are not all they are packaged up to be. Imagine wipes turning up on your beach! Sidmouth ground to a halt as a massive blockage was attributed to people flushing innocent-looking wipes down the toilet.
Confusing packaging on wet wipes
Baby wipes come in Biodegradable, Compostable, Eco, Flushable, all of which are NOT recyclable and NOT OK to flush even if the label says they are. The Rubbish Bin should become the home of a used wet wipe. 30 or 40 years ago people used flannels, but our modern convenience age means we are not so comfortable using flannels!
Even when put into the bin, wet wipes still pose an environmental problem as they cannot be recycled or composted and, as such, sit in landfill sites for a very long time without biodegrading. Experts warn that a single wet wipe could take 100 years to biodegrade as they contain polyesters which are virtually indestructible.
Imagine what would happen if you gave in to temptation and flushed items down our toilet that ultimately led to blocked drains, Marge the Barge not working and a Farm Park that was closed for a day or two to sort it out. All because of a carelessly discarded flush! All we are asking is that you, our clients, engage with our simple request Don’t flush anything that is not one of the 3 P’s.
So, what have we done to help?
We really appreciate the amazing clients that enjoy their day out and really look after our facilities. We pay for PHS to supply and regularly service the sanitary bins in our toilets. The best baby changing bins are clean bins so please let us know if those in the baby changing areas are not used properly. If you are using wipes around the park, firstly dispose of them tidily in the bins provided. Imagine being one of our hard working tidy up team find a nappy or wipes in our car park, therefore we ask you to please bag it, bin it or take it home.
Try this little test
If you take a plastic bottle (ironic that we are saying plastic, glass will work too) and fill it with water. Add toilet paper and shake. Watch how the paper breaks down and disintegrates.
Now try it with your favorite flushable/biodegradable/eco-friendly wipe. Shake hard and leave it standing for approx. an hour and shake again – the results are startling.
Join in every year to Help Keep Britain Tidy
Sign up for the Great British Spring Clean. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign on 22nd March to 23rd April 2019
We loved the research done by Which to see what is in some of the most popular wipes.