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Watercare Welcomes New ‘Flushable’ Standard Aimed At Protecting Our Pipes

Watercare is welcoming the release of a new flushable products standard that will provide clarity over what can and cannot be flushed down the loo.

The standard – DR AS/NZS 5328:2022 Flushable Products – was released today by Standards Australia after years of collaboration between manufacturers, water utilities, industry associations and consumer groups.

Watercare head of service delivery Sharon Danks says it’s a positive step to address a longstanding problem that wastewater utilities face around the world.

“Wet wipes that don’t break down properly in water can get caught up on tree roots inside our pipes. They can then build up into fatbergs when people pour cooking fats or oils down the sink, causing our pipes to block and triggering an overflow.

“We spend about $5.5m each year cleaning up wastewater overflows caused by these types of blockages, so we work hard to educate our customers about what can and can’t be flushed down the loo.

“We’ve been telling people to only flush the three Ps – pee, poo and toilet paper. With this standard, we’ll also be able to recommend they check for the new flushable symbol on the packet – if it doesn’t have it, don’t flush it.”

Water Services Association of Australia executive director Adam Lovell says the development of the standard has been closely watched around the world.

“There is already interest in adopting the standard, with Israel advising it intends to adopt the standard with no changes.

“While the standard is voluntary, it provides manufacturers with clear pass/fail criteria for products suitable for toilet flushing. Importantly it includes requirements for clearer labelling so customers know for certain whether a product is safe for flushing,” Lovell says.

Manufacturers are expected to start using the flushable symbol in the coming months for products that pass the stringent testing criteria, including six tests to confirm they don’t adversely impact wastewater networks and treatment systems and an attestation that there is no plastic in the product.

Products that don’t disintegrate to a high level, or can’t easily pass through pipework or pumps will not meet the standards and therefore will not be able to display the flushable symbol.

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