About 80% of wastewater comes from our homes, where each person produces an average of 400 litres per day! Wastewater is anything that is flushed down our toilets, poured down our sinks or flushed into our sewer. Some of the things that we put down our pipes can cause big problems for our homes, the environment and the region’s sewer system. This includes things like wipes, facial tissues, diapers, cotton balls, feminine hygiene products, dental floss, paper towels, syringes and even hair.
Many of these items become stringy and bind together to block pipes. The wipes will twist up in the system and actually become stronger as they become more like rope. They will also get wrapped up with dental floss, hair, and grease which works like a glue or bonding agent. These accumulations of rags and other products that don’t dissolve will wrap around pump impellers and clog the pumps. In many cases an operator will have to remove the rag balls by hand, there may also be syringes caught in the rags which are a serious health risk to operators.
What Can You Do?
- Only flush human waste and toilet paper. Disposable wipes, even those marked “flushable”, don’t easily break down and may cause clogs.
- Don’t pour grease from cooking down the drain. Wipe small amounts with a paper towel and put it in your municipal food scraps collection bin. Take larger amounts to a recycling depot.
- Put food scraps in your municipal food scraps collection bin or backyard composter, not down the drain or toilet.
- Don’t let anything (soap, paint, pesticides) go down the storm drains in roads or driveways. These drains go directly to the nearest waterway.
- Protect our waterways and return medications to the pharmacy.
Personal wipes, disinfecting wipes, greast, food scraps and hazardous materials should not be flushed down the toilet or dumped down the sink.
The Truth about Flushable Wipes
Unlike toilet paper, wipes don’t easily break down when flushed, even the ones labelled “flushable”. As they travel through the sewer system, wipes can clog sewer lines, pumps and even your own pipes. This can cause backed up pipes, flooded basements and sewage spills into our environment.
There is currently no regulation to specify what products can be labelled “flushable”. So even if a so-called “flushable” product makes it down your toilet, it can still cause big problems for the sewage system. Cities around the world are working to develop an ISO standard to more accurately label whether or not products are truly flushable.
Currently in Canada there are no regulations for the word “flushable”, so you should not flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper even if it is advertised as flushable, it should go in the garbage.