New Flushability Standard to help reduce blockages caused by wipes

New Flushability Standard to help reduce blockages caused by wipes

1 September 2021

New draft standards aimed at reducing the costs and environmental damage caused by wet wipes have just been released.

Water New Zealand technical manager, Noel Roberts says the proposed new standards follow several years of collaboration between Water New Zealand and Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), along with water utilities, manufacturers and consumer groups.

“The draft standard provides manufacturers with clear specifications. It provides labelling guidance and requirements, as well as setting out methods for testing whether products are suitable for toilet flushing and compatible with wastewater systems and the environment.

“It’s been estimated that inappropriate flushing of wipes is costing councils and water utilities more than $16-m year in unblocking pipes as well as polluting our waterways and the environment through sewage overflows.

“We know that many consumers mistakenly believe that wipes are flushable because of misleading labelling.”

He says the COVID-19 pandemic has placed even more stress on our wastewater systems, and risks to essential workers.

“Blockages caused by the inappropriate flushing of wipes puts essential workers at risk when they have to manually clear the wastewater systems.”

The draft Australia/New Zealand Standard defines the criteria for material suitable for toilet flushing, along with appropriate labelling requirements and will be the first of its kind internationally.

It is the first time that utilities and manufacturers have been able to agree on a flushable standard and includes rules around clearer labelling and a pass/fail criteria. The draft standard is open for public comment through the Australia Standards portal until 1 November 2021.

Go here to view the draft with the latest comments and to provide feedback:

Wet wipes