It’s official: you may find one item in your bathroom or baby-changing bag that’s making history.
Back in 2018, no wet wipes on the UK market were safe to be disposed of via the toilet. You may recall wet wipes forming ‘islands’ on beaches and washing up on riverbanks. In just 3 years, WRc and Water UK have announced 100 different products and manufacturers as 100% plastic-free and certified as “Fine to Flush”, therefore won’t block pipes and our sewer networks. Those meeting the industry standard include the UK’s leading wipes brand and most major UK retailers – all you have to do is look for the logo.
The awarding of the 100th Fine to Flush certification marks a great achievement for the scheme, which was the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Improvement category at the 2021 Water Industry Awards. The F2F scheme addresses a key priority within the water industry and a hot topic in UK news. Most wet wipes contain plastic and do not easily break down, if at all, making up around 93% of all sewer fatbergs and causing a considerable percentage of emergency call-outs due to jammed sewage pumps. These wipe-related failures are a major reason for sewage waste flooding our domestic properties and polluting our water courses and beaches. The cost to the water industry, environment, and consumers is significant.
These harmful environmental, financial, and societal consequences of wet wipes are entirely avoidable. Wipes featuring misleading ‘flushable’ branding may not actually break down quick enough to be flushed. Only paper, pee and poo (the 3 Ps) should be flushed down our sewer systems, in order to protect our sewer system and wider environment. Wipes that are used in association with toileting, for example moist toilet tissues, should be disposed of via the WC for public health reasons and therefore be made of materials that readily break down once flushed (thus able to be classified as ‘paper’ under the 3Ps).
This is where the Water Research Centre (WRc Group) come in, the Swindon-based independent technical experts who developed the specifications to assess wet wipes’ performance in the sewer system. The Fine to Flush scheme testing process (known as Water Industry Specification 4-02-06) has nine tests that need to be passed before a product can be regarded as safe – fine to flush.
This certification provided by WRc and Water UK ensures that our sewers and wider environment are one step closer to being free from plastic pollution. Not to mention, freeing our bursting landfills of billions of non-biodegradable wet wipes. The scheme encourages potential for products to demonstrate compliance with environmental industry standards across other sectors such as healthcare.
The Fine to Flush testing specification gives details of the requirements and test procedures. Manufacturers and product developers may wish to contact WRc regarding further information and to discuss the most appropriate approaches to testing.
WRc has long been at the forefront of research into the impact of wet wipes on water networks and is proud to be the designated testing facility for all products wishing to gain ‘Fine to Flush’ certification.
If you would like your wipes tested, we would be delighted to hear from you, please complete the attached form.
For more information search ‘fine to flush’ at wrcgroup.com, or chat to a Fine to Flush expert: