Just because it says “flushable” doesn’t mean it should be flushed down the drain. A growing problem for many municipalities is flushable products claiming they will break down, but instead are clogging sewer systems, causing millions of dollars of damage to infrastructure.
In 2014, Barry Orr, an official from the Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group (MESUG), which represents Canada’s wastewater systems, performed a lab test comparing flushable wipes to toilet paper and found that even after sitting in water for two months, the wipes did not break down as well as toilet paper.
When flushed items don’t break down, someone has to clean them out of the traps. Additionally, when working to remove these clogs, the wipes can actually cause further damage to the pipes and equipment.
Flushable wipes aren’t the only thing clogging sewers. Items such as grease fat, food and more can clog sewers – such as the 14-tonne mass lodged in a sewer drain and dubbed “fatberg.”
Regardless of what the box says, the best method to protect your home from a sewer clog is to just dispose of items in the garbage can. The following is a list of items that should never be flushed down the drain:
- Coffee grounds, egg shells and food
- Grease, fats and oils (cool and allow to solidify before disposing or include an absorbent such as stale bread)
- Animal waste
- Paper towels and cotton balls
- Paint and chemicals