Is it OK to flush flushable wipes in Australia?

By: Kate Browne   On:14 December 2020 

The use of 'flushable' wipes has become increasingly popular in Australia.

In recent years, the use of 'flushable' wipes has become increasingly popular in Australia. Marketed for their convenience and hygiene, these wipes are commonly used for everything from personal care to household cleaning. However, the question arises: Is it truly safe to flush these wipes down the toilet in Australia?

The 'Flushable' Label Misconception:

Despite being labeled as 'flushable,' many of these wipes do not break down as easily as toilet paper. According to wastewater authorities across Australia, these wipes are contributing significantly to sewer blockages and system overloads. The problem lies in their material composition, which is not as degradable as it's often claimed to be.

Statistics from Water Services:

Reports from major water services like Sydney Water have highlighted the severity of the issue. They estimate spending millions annually to address blockages caused primarily by wet wipes. These blockages not only strain the wastewater systems but also pose environmental risks, including potential overflows into local waterways.

Alternatives to 'Flushable' Wipes:

Given these concerns, consumers are encouraged to reconsider their use of 'flushable' wipes. There are eco-friendly alternatives available, such as biodegradable wipes or simply using traditional toilet paper. If you do use wipes, it's safer for the environment and the sewage system to dispose of them in the bin rather than flushing them.

The Bottom Line:

While the convenience of 'flushable' wipes is undeniable, their impact on Australia's sewage systems and environment is a growing concern. As responsible consumers, it's important to stay informed and make choices that not only benefit us but also protect our planet. The next time you reach for a 'flushable' wipe, remember the potential consequences of flushing it down the toilet and consider more sustainable disposal methods. Let's all do our part in preserving Australia's precious environmental resources and infrastructure.

An image depicting flushable wipes which are ecofriendly and biodegrable from Kindy Ecobaby

Extra Facts:

Kate Browne at Choice Wrote this article about flushable wipes.

By Kate Browne

Last updated: 2nd November 2015

The wipes market, and the uses for wipes, has exploded. A stroll down any supermarket aisle now reveals wet wipes for make-up removal, toddlers' noses, floor cleaning, toilet cleaning, toilet training and even (wait for it...) adult bums – promising to leave users "extra clean and fresh".

To make things even easier for us consumers, we're told (on the packaging) that many of these wipes are now "flushable", which means rather than using the bin, you can toss it into the toilet and flush it out of your life just like toilet paper.

But are they really flushable? Not according to Australia's water service providers, who are spending an estimated $15 million a year, and growing, to clear blockages they say are largely caused by wet wipes.

The quick and dirty facts

  • One in four people in Sydney is flushing wet wipes.
  • Sydney Water has removed more than 1000 tonnes of wet wipe materials from its wastewater system in the past two years. If laid end-to-end, that's enough wet wipes to reach LA and back again.
  • Wet wipes increase the risk of pipe blockages and overflows to local creeks and rivers.
  • About 75% of all sewer blockages involve wet wipes.

(Info provided by Sydney Water)

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