Can you flush it? Plea to check first

Published 8:00am 25 May 2022

Can you flush it? Plea to check first
Words by Kylie Knight

Don’t rush to flush…look for the logo… that’s the message to users of loos, latrines and lavatories across the Moreton Bay Region, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

Water and sewerage services utility Unitywater is backing new national criteria for flushable products. Under the standard, shop-bought items will carry a distinctive logo, signalling whether the product is suitable for a lap around the s-bend at the end of its useful life.

“We’ve always said, ‘please, only flush the three Ps - toilet paper, pee and poo’. Now, also take a moment to check household products for the flushable logo,” Unitywater Executive Manager Customer Delivery Rhett Duncan says.

“Remember, even if a product’s packaging indicates it can be flushed, that doesn’t mean it has been tested for compatibility with our sewer systems. If there’s no logo, it needs to go in the bin. That product has the potential to block household plumbing and our sewer network.

“When the system gets blocked, wastewater can overflow manholes and back up into streets, gardens and homes. And trust me, no one wants that. Please, don’t rush to flush – look for the logo.”

Wastewater systems are designed to treat waste, known as the three Ps (toilet paper, pee and poo), from toilets and urinals. However, increasingly other items are going into the toilet, due to marketing claims they’re flushable or simply because they are used in bathrooms.

Costly consequences

Blocked pipes caused by these items cost the urban water industry tens of millions of dollars annually.

During the past 12 months, Unitywater crews cleared almost 900 blockages from the main sewer pipe network and the household connections which transport waste for a population of around 800,000 people across, Noosa, the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay.

Wet wipes and paper towels, which were never intended to go down the toilet, are among the most common causes of blockages. Other items found at Unitywater’s sewage treatment plants include false teeth, pet toys, TV remotes, fishing lures, a floral dress, rubber thongs and a plastic python.

Adherence to the Flushable Products Standard, administered by the nation’s peak standards authority Standards Australia, is voluntary.

In addition to labelling, the standard provides test methods and criteria for determining whether products are suitable for flushing down a toilet.

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