In a 2019 study conducted at Ryerson University. 23 “flush-able” products were tested. Only two of the single-use wipes even partially disintegrated, while the other 21 didnt break down at all.
Firstly, what makes Toilet paper an appropriate flushable product? In the 1890’s, toilet paper was introduced as a safe, flushable alternative to corn cobs, catalogs, sponges-attached-to-sticks, and any other previous go-to wiping method. Unlike other products, toilet paper dissolves easily when exposed to water. This is mainly due to how Toilet paper is made. Traditional Toilet paper is made from a combination of recycled paper pulp, water with chemicals to help it break down, starches for wet strength and other chemicals to make it white.
While wipes may be more comfortable, they were initially introduced in the 1970s for babies and were expected to be thrown in the trash and NOT into our toilets. Typical hygiene and lysol wipes are made from various fabrics like polyester, polypropylene, and cotton. These fabrics help make wipes more durable for multiple uses and to clean up heavy duty messes. However, this does not allow them to break down in the same way toilet paper is made to.
Not only does the use of wipes cause damage to the drainage system, it also has a costly effect on our infrastructure by damaging waste water treatment equipment. Approximately, $250 Million is spent each year in Canada due to blocked drains and damages associated with the blockages. Unfortunately, there is no way to trust if a product is truly “flushable” or not. An easy way to test this, if you really wish to use a certain wipe product, is to submers a wipe into water. Waiting to see if the wipe dissolves will confirm whether it should be flushed or not.
Although the debate over flushable and non flushable wipes continues, it is our recommendation that nothing other than good old fashion TP is flushed down the toilet. If you choose to use wipes, flushable or not, they should be disposed of in the garbage and not in our sewers.
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