Flushability standard to help war against 'fatbergs'

Urban Utilities

Tuesday, 24 May, 2022

Flushability standard to help war against 'fatbergs'

Urban Utilities has welcomed a new Australian-first standard for what can and can’t be flushed down the loo, which will help avoid costly blockages in household pipes and fight dreaded ‘fatbergs’ in the nation’s sewer networks.

Urban Utilities held trials in an Australian replica sewer at its Innovation Centre in Brisbane to help develop tests that wipes need to pass to achieve the National Standard.

Urban Utilities spokesperson Anna Hartley said products that meet the standard will carry a new ‘flushable’ label.

“Wet wipes can cause costly blockages in the sewer network and people’s household pipes, which can lead to unexpected and often hefty plumbing bills,” she said.

“We ran extensive trials in Australia’s largest replica sewer at our Luggage Point Innovation Centre to monitor how wet wipes would break down in real-life sewer conditions to help develop the new standard.

“It’s a real game changer that will help consumers better understand how they can protect their private plumbing and our underground network.”

Hartley said Urban Utilities removed around 120 tonnes of wipes — the weight of 34 hippos — from its wastewater network every year.

“Flushed wet wipes can also combine with fats, oils and greases in the network to create huge fatbergs that need to be removed,” she said.

“We craned a six-metre-long fatberg out of a sewer pipe in suburban Brisbane last year — that was full of wet wipes that had been flushed.”

The new labels will start appearing on products which meet the National Standard in the next six months. “The standard outlines clear testing criteria manufacturers need to meet to carry the new label, which covers the ‘flushability’ of a wide range of disposable products including tampons, paper towels and even kitty litter,” Hartley said.

“It’s the first time in the world that utilities and product manufacturers have come together to define a clear and mutually accepted pass/fail criteria of what can and can’t be flushed.

“If a product doesn’t carry the new ‘flushable’ label, we urge everyone to stick to flushing the 3Ps — pee, poo and paper.”

Image caption: Anna Hartley from Urban Utilities at Australia's replica sewer in Brisbane.

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