Let's Talk: Should pipe-clogging flushable wipes be banned?

Flushable wipes are costly for the environment.

Aldi will sell Green Action flushable bathroom cleaning wipes this Wednesday as part of its Special Buy products.

But several shoppers have already lashed out on Facebook, telling the discount supermarket chain it should remove the items from its shelves.

Flushable wipes have been named as the culprit of more than one sewage blockage, with an estimated $15 million a year and growing spent on unclogging the dirty little towelettes from Australia’s pipes. 

But remember when the majority of us survived with an outdoor dunny? So why are flushable wipes suddenly “all the rage”? 

There are wet wipes for just about everything these days. From make-up removal to baby and adult bums, floor cleaning, toilet cleaning – the list goes on with most flushable wipes packaging promising an “extra clean and fresh” feeling upon use. 

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We’re also told on the packaging to flush the wipes rather than using a good ol’ fashioned bin. However, the impact they have on environment and our sewage system is not good. 

In fact, near Newcastle last year, a massive blockage made up of wet wipes and sewage was pulled from an underground pipe – it took crews four hours and a crane to remove the 7-metre “snake” which weighed about 750 kilograms. A further 300kg worth of flushed wipes were removed at the site using buckets. 

Competition regulator ACCC has taken flushable wipes makers Kimberly-Clark Australia and Pental to task over making false or misleading claims that their product disintegrates as well as toilet paper. 

On December 12, the ACCC announced impending court action against the companies.

“The ACCC alleges that the impression given by the representations which Kimberly-Clark and Pental each made about these products was that they were suitable to be flushed down household toilets in Australia, when this was not the case,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

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Meanwhile, consumer group Choice has said shoppers should be wary of any flushable wipe on the market. 

Currently running a ‘Flushbusters’ campaign to remove false flushable claims made by manufacturers, Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey told News Corp Australia the wipes shouldn’t exist in the first place. 

“They’re a product that don’t need to exist, they’re bad for the environment, they’re bad for plumbing and can cost you and local councils a great deal of money,” he said. 

Do you use flushable wipes? Do you think they’re bad for the environment?