February 19th, 2020

Campaign against ‘flushable’ wipes long overdue: City

By Kalinowski, Tim on May 4, 2019.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


The City of Lethbridge says a new #FlushMeNot campaign taking aim at so-called “flushable” hygienic products is likely long overdue.

Friends of the Earth Canada, represented by Ecojustice, filed an application on Wednesday seeking an investigation by the Competition Bureau into what it called “false and misleading” claims made by the manufacturers of 23 so-called flushable wipes and other single-use products. They contend there are environmental and cost consequences associated with consumers believing and acting on those claims.

City of Lethbridge water waste and stormwater department spokesperson Stephanie Vehnon said the City has been trying to raise awareness among residents for some time of not flushing these so-called flushables.

“We have seen some costs associated with fixing the problems related to these flushable wipes,” she confirms. “Homeowners can save money and possible pipe fixes in the future by avoiding putting these down their toilets.”

Vehnon says homeowners often bear the enormous brunt of these repairs when flushables clog up the works, but the City also has had to bear its share of costs associated with them.

“If it is not natural or toilet paper, it shouldn’t be flushed,” she states. “No matter the wipes do say they are flushable, it’s wrong. This is a misconception that is being advertised when actually they are not flushable. We don’t want to see these wipes down our pipes, and we don’t want to see them at our waste water treatment plant because it does cause costly issues in the system.”

Vehnon suggests those who wish to continue using these types of wipes dispose of them in the garbage instead.

“We encourage people to throw those in the garbage can even if they do say flushable,” she confirms. “We’re trying to change that misconception about what is said on the packaging.”

According to the complaint filed by Friends of Earth Canada, “The single-use wipes, which include baby wipes and personal wipes, sold under the Cottonelle, Charmin and President’s Choice brands and others, are marketed as ‘flushable’ and safe to be flushed down toilets. But a recent study by Ryerson University’s Urban Water program demonstrated that all the products cited in the application failed to meet internationally recognized criteria for flushability.”

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