7710 West Saginaw Hwy Lansing MI 48917
517 - 323 - 8500

What does "flushable" really mean?

Sewer utilities across the country are having a huge problem, and the problem is “flushable” products. Pre-moistened personal wipes labeled as “flushable” as well as other products likeFlushables-Image flushable toilet cleaning sponges and some women feminine products are creating an enormous problem. While these products may swirl down the toilet with ease, most do not dis-integrate, creating serious problems as they work their way through aging sewage systems on their way to the treatment facility. These so-called “flushable” products cause pumps to jam, equipment to break or simply use more energy to operate. This can lead to sewage backups and potentially sewage backing up into a customer’s basement.

Industry experts estimate these issues cost U.S. utilities between $500 million and $1 billion annually to clear clogs, unjam pumps, or replace equipment altogether. The number of manpower hours to alleviate these issues is also becoming extremely burdensome to sewer utilities. Other items, such as disinfectant wipes and facial cloths not meant to be flushed are also contributing to these problems.

Utilities across the country are trying to stress to their customers the message of the “3 Ps” meaning only flush pee, poop, and toilet paper.

The wastewater industry has long considered toilet paper as the benchmark for any product that is labeled as “flushable”, since toilet paper is flushed constantly and utilities do not see it causing problems. Why is toilet paper okay to flush while other so-called “flushables” are not? It rapidly loses strength when it gets wet. It breaks into pieces during the flushing action of a toilet and continues to break apart simply by moving through the sanitary collection system. It does not require the force of a mechanical device to break into pieces. It has short fiber lengths that are unlikely to re-rope or entangle with other materials. It is biodegradable and will not reduce the quality of biosolids. These qualitative properties of toilet paper should apply to any product that calls itself “flushable”.’

So, the next time you go to do the convenient thing and flush that product, help out your sewer utility and ask yourself, is this really “flushable”? Does it appear to have the same properties as toilet paper? If the answer is no, please don’t flush it. Find another way to properly dispose the items or product. Who knows, you may just be saving yourself the burden of a plugged pipe or sanitary sewer backup into your basement.

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7710 West Saginaw Hwy
Lansing MI 48917
Phone: (517) 323-8500
Fax: (517) 323-8599
Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.