By: Dave Odegard
Are you one of the millions of people who are making flushable bathroom wipes a booming consumer trend? Well, if you are then your local sewer utility hates you.
For those unaware, allow us to explain. Over the past few years, the companies and corporations that make moistened toilettes and wipes (baby wipes) have found a new customer-base to market their products to: adults. Basically, by tweaking their wipes to break down like toilet paper when flushed, the wipe companies have found that grown men and women enjoy using them for a more “thorough clean” when they go to bathroom. This of course makes perfect sense business-wise (Hey, they’re increasing their customers!), but it’s kind of a problem for sewer systems.
It seems that while the wipes may be “flushable” in theory and in lab testing, they don’t work so well in real life sewer settings, particularly older systems which many communities around the country still use. According to sewer agencies from various states, the wipes clog pipes and jam pumps, which can cause some foul overflow. This in turn creates a bigger problem by taxing already overburdened systems and taking up the time of work crews that would be handling more important issues. The problem has gotten so bad that many of the agencies that manage sewer systems have begun publically appealing to people not to flush their wipes (even the ones marked as “flushable”).
But the moistened wipe industry is fighting to keep their burgeoning market (flushable wipes currently make up 14% of sales and are projected to increase by 6% every year), claiming to be developing products that more easily break down in sewers while also meeting consumer demands.
So what do you think? Should people stop using flushable wipes, like the sewer utility companies want? Should the wipe industry make a better flushable wipe? Or should people just go back to using toilet paper?
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
[Pic via Flickr - Elvert Barnes]