Damage Caused by Wipes
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Internationally, water service providers, and the associations and organizations representing them, share a common goal to reduce the problems caused by the inappropriate disposal of customer products down the toilet. The International Water Services Flushability Group (IWSFG) is a group of passionate water professionals seeking to provide clear guidance on what should and shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet to protect customers, wastewater systems, their workers, and the environment.
Water service providers around the world have experienced expensive problems due to inappropriate flushing of customer products. These problems include clogged pumps, blocked screens, buildups in wastewater treatment plants, sewer blockages, an inability to effectively treat the products prior to their release to the environment and sewer overflows that can impact public health and the environment. In addition, utility workers are placed at risk when they remove these products from mechanical equipment and raw sewage.
To address these problems, the IWSFG developed specifications for items that can be flushed down the toilet. These specifications addressed some of the key requirements of the International Water Industry Statement on Flushability that to be considered flushable, “the product: a) breaks into small pieces quickly; b) must not be buoyant; c) does not contain plastic.” This statement was released on 22 September 2016 and signed by over 250 water organizations worldwide. (Note that the IWSFG specifications do not address the additional requirement for flushability in the International Water Industry Statement on Flushability, that the product “does not contain… regenerated cellulose.”)
On July 24, 2017, the IWSFG released its draft flushability specifications for public comment. The IWSFG evaluated the public comments received on the first draft and released a second draft for public comment on January 10, 2018.
The final flushability specifications were published in June 2018 and updated in November 2020.