Not disposing of wet wipes in the correct way can have a detrimental impact on the sewage system, your home’s pipework and the planet. Many brands of baby wipes, cosmetic wipes and household cleaning wipes contain plastic, which gives them a soft feel. But if flushed down the toilet they can pollute the rivers and oceans.
There are wipes that are flushable, like Andrex® Washlets™. They can be disposed of down the toilet and will break down in the sewer system and not cause blockages.
In this guide, we look at how to dispose of biodegradable wipes, getting rid of wipes that are non-recyclable or biodegradable, and provide advice on how you can spot whether or not the wipes you use in the bathroom can be flushed.
Disposing of wet wipes
The incorrect disposal of wet wipes is a worsening problem that is having a significant impact on the natural environment. In the last decade, the amount of wet wipes found on coastlines in the United Kingdom has increased by 400 percent . Out of all the plastic found washed up on coastlines in Europe, around eight percent of it comes from wet wipes
When flushed down the toilet, wet wipes containing plastic bunch together and trap waste that forms large blockages. These act as nets and catch all kinds of waste including hair, food remains and paper. They don’t go away on their own and can be extremely costly to remove from the sewer system.
The only correct way of disposing of wet wipes once you have used them is to place them in a rubbish bin. People often flush wet wipes either because they are unaware of the harm they cause, or because it is the most convenient method for them.
For parents, when teaching children how to wipe, remember to let them know that while toilet paper is safe to flush down the toilet, they need to place wet wipes in the bin. Even older children might need a reminder about how bathroom habits can impact the environment.
How to dispose of Andrex® Washlets™
While wet wipes must go in the waste bin, all products in the Andrex Washlets range are safe to be flushed down the toilet.
The Andrex® Washlets™ range has been made with sustainability and environmental safety in mind. Andrex® Washlets™ have been rigorously tested to ensure that they do not block pipes and sewer systems and their new range disperses even faster than the previous Andrex® Washlets™.
Flushable products can be identified by the Water UK’s official Fine to Flush Standard icon on their packaging and the Andrex® range is the first brand in the UK to meet the requirements of this standard. They have also passed the international INDA/EDANA flushability standard.
How to dispose of biodegradable wipes
It is a common misconception that wet wipes marked as being biodegradable are safe to flush down the toilet. This is often due to confusion about what biodegradability actually is and how it is different to compostability.
When a material is biodegradable, it can be broken down into smaller components by microorganisms with the help of bacteria and fungi. There are a number of things So, if biodegradable wipes can be broken down does this mean that they can be flushed down the toilet? The answer is actually no. The only correct way to dispose of biodegradable wipes is by putting them in a waste bin. Any wipes that contain fossil-based synthetic fibres can potentially release microfibres into the environment when they decompose.
This means that while there is less chance that biodegradable wipes will clog up pipes and sewage systems, they can still pollute waters and harm creatures living in marine or river environments.
Rather than being made with fossil-based synthetic fibres, wipes made with cellulosic fibres are made from wood, a renewable raw material. Wood based fibres are able to completely decompose in soil and are biodegradable in both fresh and salt water. These materials take around six weeks to degrade in fresh water and only four weeks in salt water providing the temperature is warm enough.