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“FLUSHABLE” wipes, such as make-up removal wipes, cleaning wipes and baby wipes should not be flushed down the toilet, even if their products' packaging states that they are flushable. As convenient as flushing wipes may sound, the claims on the product packaging are misleading. Wipes do not break down in the wastewater treatment process the same way that toilet paper does, creating clogs in pipes and sewers.
ALL WIPES, including cleaning wipes, baby wipes, adult personal hygiene wipes, facial wipes and make-up removal wipes should be disposed of in the garbage.
Misleading Product Packaging
As an incentive to buy wipes and personal hygiene products, some manufacturers state that their products are OK to flush on the package. However, a majority of Canadian municipalities and international water services agree that these wipes are not safe to flush because they are:
- Unable to break down into small pieces quickly
- Contain plastic, regenerated cellulose or materials that do not readily degrade in a range of natural environments
These disposable wipes are one of the main culprits to cause millions of dollars in wastewater infrastructure damages across Canada.
Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group (MESUG) and International Standards
The City of Hamilton is a member of the Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group (MESUG), which advocates for the removal of this misleading packaging. Currently, MESUG is engaging in discussions with the provincial and federal levels of government in Canada to establish an international standard of products that can be safely flushed down toilets. As of now, this standard does not exist.
- The City of Hamilton and MESUG are supportive of the international water industry's position on non-flushable and 'flushable' labelled products, which states:
- Only the 3Ps - pee, poo and toilet paper - should be flushed.
- Wipes labelled as 'flushable' based on passing a manufacturers' trade association guidance document should be labelled "Do Not Flush" until there is a standard agreed by the water and wastewater industry, preferably developed under the banner of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
- Manufacturers of wipes and personal hygiene products should give consumers clear and unambiguous information about appropriate disposal methods.
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