Misleading wet wipes labelling

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 19 September 2016

Complaint lodged with the Advertising Standards Agency MCS has joined forces with Wessex Water and other partners to highlight the issue of wet wipe labelling to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

Wet wipes cause thousands of blockages every year. To find out that retailers are still selling wet wipes labelled as flushable is unacceptable. These products, which may also be described as moist toilet tissue or dispersible, contribute to the massive problem of blockages, causing costs both directly through blocked drains under property and in the environment, but also through increased water bills”

Dr Laura Foster,
Head of Pollution
MCS

Complaint lodged with the Advertising Standards Agency MCS has joined forces with Wessex Water and other partners to highlight the issue of wet wipe labelling to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). We believe that products currently sold to consumers are mislabelled, saying clearly on the packaging that they can be disposed of down the loo. In fact, wet wipes are by far the biggest cause of sewer bloackages in the UK, do not meet water industry flushability standards, and should really be clearly labelled so they are disposed of in the bin! There are several products commonly in sale in UK stores that are labelled as “flushable”, “dispersible” or “moist toilet tissue” which don’t conform to water industry standards. That confuses the public and leads to their being flushed down the loo, into sewers that can’t cope with them, blocking them up, resulting in spilled sewage and expensive clean-up operations. The complaint is being filed by Wessex Water, and is also backed by City to Sea, Surfers Against Sewage, and Litter Free Coast and Sea. MCS launched the Wet Wipes Turn Nasty When You Flush Them campaign in June 2016, showing the monstrous nature of these wipes after we found an alarming rise in numbers getting on the nation’s beaches. Almost 6,000 people have now signed our petition calling for retailers to include a clear é’DON’T FLUSH’ message on their packaging and remind us only paper, pee and poo belong down the loo. MCS Head of Pollution Dr Laura Foster says: “We have been working with retailers to get them to change their wipes, and while we have seen changes with commitments to remove microplastics, we also need retailers to either remove their wipes or reformulate them so they pass the water industry standard. In the meantime the public should only flush pee, poo and paper down the toilet. Ø Matt Wheeldon, director of assets and compliance for Wessex Water, said: “We frequently hear from customers who have flushed wipes which have then caused a blockage. “As a result they have had their garden flooded with sewage and, in worst case scenarios, their homes flooded. “These wipes are marketed as flushable but often we find they simply don’t break down and cause blockages. Ø In this short film, MCS Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer, Emma Cunningham shows how wet wipes and toilet paper behave very differently in water: You can add your voice to the campaign at wetwipesturnnasty.com

Actions you can take

  1. Visit the Unflushables website

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