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Wet wipes continue to clog the nation’s pipes

Water authorities are warning consumers to flush only “pee, paper and poo” down their toilets as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) escalates a probe into whether cleaning wipes are causing widespread damage to pipe systems across the country.

Sydney’s sewerage system is one of the worst affected by the “fatberg” problem, according to Sydney Water, which said it spent $16 million in the last two financial years replacing pipes clogged by wipes that are marketed by companies such as Kleenex as “flushable”.

The national cost is estimated by the Water Services Association of Australia to be $15 million a year.

However, the total cost to taxpayers and consumers is likely to be higher because it does not include remedial work commissioned by local governments and individual property owners.

“This is a global problem that wipes don’t break down,” Sydney Water spokesman Peter Hadfield told The New Daily.

“This inability to break down comes with a significant associated cost to water utilities and consumers across the world.”

Mr Hadfield confirmed that the ACCC had launched an investigation into the crisis and that Sydney Water was assisting in the probe.

Water authorities in all states recently launched public information campaigns to deter consumers from flushing wipes in toilets.

“Consumers across the country need to stop considering their toilet to be a garbage bin with water in the bottom of it,” he said.

“Everyone should remember the three Ps – the only things that you should flush down your toilet are pee, poo and [toilet] paper.”

Kleenex recently released a new range of flushable wipes to allay public outrage, but test results published by peak consumer advocate CHOICE suggest the upgraded products still do not degrade fast enough.

“Kleenex seems to have an obsession with trying to convince people to flush these products, when the fact is they can clog up your pipes and be rough on your wallet,” CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey said in a statement.

“Although the new wipes disintegrated more than the old wipes, they didn’t break down fast enough and we believe they pose a blockage threat particularly in the first several metres of pipe on the consumer’s property.

CHOICE wants consumers to join its campaign to force manufacturers like Kleenex to change their ways.

Article taken from The New Daily, 16th June 2016.