The public are being warned to reconsider what they flush down the toilet, after two major home brands were found to mislead consumers about flushable wipes.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found some flushable wipes by Kimberly-Clark Australia Pty Ltd (Kleenex) and Pental Products Pty Ltd (White King) were not “completely flushable” or able to “break down in sewerage system” as advertised.
The two companies were taken to court by the ACCC due to deceptive conduct and false or misleading representations, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
“These products did not, for example, disintegrate like toilet paper when flushed. Australian water authorities face significant problems when non-suitable products are flushed down the toilet as they contribute to blockages in household and municipal sewerage systems,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
According to Sydney Water, more than 500 tonnes of wet wipes are removed from Sydney Water’s sewers each year.
“Wet wipes may flush and clear your toilet bowl, however they can combine with fats and oils and other things that shouldn’t be flushed [causing] big, congealed clumps or fatbergs in the sewer,” Peter Hadfield at Sydney Water said.
Sydney Water have spent $8 million to remove flushed wet wipes, but it’s costing consumers’ homes too.
“Many customers have told us that based on the ‘flushable’ labelling of wipes they thought it was okay to flush, only to be hit later with expensive plumbing bills,” Mr Hadfield said.
“The impact on the environment can also be dramatic, with overflows caused by sewer blockages impacting on local creeks, rivers and the ocean,” he said.
Here’s what not to flush:
- Dental floss
- Sanitary women's products
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Cleaning wipes
- Makeup wipes
Sydney Water strongly advises the ‘three P rule’.
“Only the three P’s should be flushed down the toilet. Pee, poo and (toilet) paper,” Mr Hadfield said.