Manufacturers of wipes will be able to feature an official water industry ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol on their packaging if they pass strict scientific tests. This symbol lets consumers know that the products will break down in the sewer system instead of clogging up sewers and contributing to fatbergs, which cause blockages and sewage overflows.
Fatbergs – mainly caused by a build-up of wet wipes, fats, oils and grease into a solid mass – have been increasing in frequency in recent years.
Commenting on the new ‘Fine to Flush’ standard Water UK Chief Executive said:
“This is an important step in the battle against blockages. We’ve all seen the impact of fatbergs recently, and we want to see fewer of them. Improving the environment is at the core of what the water industry does, and the new ‘Fine to Flush’ standard that we’ve created will make it easier for consumers to buy an environmentally-friendly product instead of one which clogs up drains and sewers.”
Manufacturers can have their wipes tested by WRc, the Swindon-based independent technical experts who developed the specifications for flushability standards in conjunction with Water UK. If they pass the tests, the wipes manufacturers will receive the ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol from WRc.
Although there has been an increase in products being labelled ‘Do Not Flush’, there are many wipes on the market labelled ‘Flushable’ which do not break down quickly when they enter the sewer system, and which would not pass the stringent tests which meet the standard to receive the ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol. The labelling of these products can cause confusion amongst consumers, increasing the problem of sewer blockages.
The technical name for ‘Fine to Flush’ is Water Industry Specification (WIS) 4-02-06, and the full details of the specification are in the guidance section on the WaterUK website.
Fine to Flush Facts
- Most brands still adhere to standards set by European industry body Edana, allowing products to be labelled flushable even though they don’t break down in the sewer system- many contain plastics and wood pulp. Water UK regards these tests less rigorous than their own as they fail to replicate conditions inside sewers.
- Fine to flush is a symbol introduced by Water UK for wipes that have passed strict tests to ensure they won’t contribute to sewer fatbergs.
- Wipes can display the official water industry logo- Fine to Flush- on packaging if the product passes the independent scientific tests to prove they don’t contain plastics and will break down in the sewer system.
- Independent tests carried out by technical experts WRc and cost £8000 – looking for plastic and residuals that may enter the water course.
- The first truly flushable moist tissue wipes to gain the new Fine to Flush logo was Natracare- an organic/compostable/plastic free wipe- sold in independent health shops and on-line.
- Andrex Washlets followed, receiving the Fine to Flush accreditation in March 2020 and now contain no plastics and are biodegradable.
Remember if you do not see the Fine to Flush logo, then bag and bin your wipes.