Not really flushable: Wet wipes clog Metro Vancouver sewer system

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      It doesn’t matter what the label says.

      Supposedly flushable or not, don’t let it go down the pipes.

      A report by Metro Vancouver takes note about the impact of wipes on the region’s sewer system.

      According to Linda Parkinson, source control manager with the regional district’s liquid waste services, it costs at least $100,000 every year to de-clog regional pump stations of these materials.

      The region also spends “hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of that to replace damaged equipment”.

      “Additional costs are also borne by member municipalities,” Parkinson wrote in the report included in agenda Thursday (April 11) of Metro Vancouver’s liquid waste committee. “Wipes can contain synthetic (man-made) fibers, including plastics, which contribute to microplastic pollution.”

      “In addition,” Parkinson continued, “damages at residential properties due to flooding caused by wipes can cost homeowners directly to deal with the aftermath.”

      Wipes are used for personal hygiene, baby care, facial cleaning, and household scrubbing.

      “Wipes cause major issues for the wastewater industry both in Canada and the Metro Vancouver region,” according to Parkinson. “Many of these wipes are labelled ‘flushable’ which causes confusion for consumers.”

      Parkinson wrote that that in Canada, it is estimated to cost taxpayers over $250 million every year to have wipes removed from wastewater systems.

      She also pointed out that there is no Canadian standard yet on what is considered a flushable wipe.

      Parkinson noted in her report that Metro Vancouver supports an international water industry position on wipes, which includes the following statements:

      • Only the 3Ps – Pee, Poo and toilet Paper – should be flushed.
      • Currently, all wipes and personal hygiene products should be clearly marked as “Do Not Flush” and be disposed of in the bin or trashcan.
      • Wipes labelled “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.