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Positive response to Tauranga wipes campaign


Tauranga City Council says the response to the “Save our Pipes from Wipes” campaign following its launch on 15 October has been extremely encouraging..

To date, more than 113,000 Facebook users have been reached while the video has been viewed more than 143,000 times.

Operational & Business Services Team Leader, Cathy Davidson says social media comments clearly support the messages.

She says typically the comments are asking us to ‘ban the sale of wet wipes’, and to ‘stop selling them’.

“Responders are also seeking clarification around the messaging that is on packaging, especially when products are being clearly marketed as ‘flushable’. Another theme is the question around ‘what are we going to do to fix this problem’, and ‘have we spoken with the manufacturers’.

“Following the video release, further postings have gone live on social media.These have been designed to expand on the information in the video. Messages in these postings have been focused on the composition of the wipes (i.e. plastic) and have highlighted that this is a worldwide problem, not just our city’s. These posts have been reaching in excess of 30,000 people at a time.

“A recent wastewater overflow in a clearly defined community area saw us trial a narrow social media post for this particular community. The post stated the day and time the blockage occurred and that it came from their area. This reached over 3,000 people and provoked some good discussion with community members.”

It can take time to shift the behaviour of a community. But Cathy Davidson is confident the benefits will be both tangible and intangible.

“At the end of the day, this is about protecting our environment from waste water overflows. In terms of measuring our tangible benefits, it is a bit too early to tell. We are continuing to monitor waste water blockages, overflows and also the volume of screenings that are going to landfill. Over the next few months we will be in a better position to report against those outputs.”

The Tauranga City Council has offered to share their campaign concepts with other councils and Western Bay of Plenty District Council has just gone live with their campaign. Any councils who are interested can contact Cathy at Tauranga City Council or Glenn Dougal of WAVE Creative email gd@waveagency.co.nz

Meanwhile Water New Zealand has been working with our Australian counterparts on the development of joint Australian-New Zealand Flushability Standards that will help enforce correct labelling on wipes. This follows the recent publication of new international flushability specifications (PAS 3) http://iwsfg.org/iwsfg-flushability-specification/.

New Zealand’s representatives on the standards group are Noel Roberts from Water New Zealand and Wally Potts from Tauranga City Council.

We have also been corresponding with key Government Ministers and officials about the situation.