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By Graham on 25/02/2019
A new standard has been introduced by Water UK to boost the fight against fatbergs. A fatberg is a large mass of solid waste that’s made up predominantly of congealed fat, oil and personal hygiene products. Fatbergs can grow to staggering and frankly rather gruesome proportions, with a recent blockage in East London weighing in at 130 tonnes. They can also be extremely time-consuming and expensive to remove, which is one of a number of reasons why the new standard has been introduced.
What is the new water industry standard?
The new standard is called ‘Fine to Flush’. It aims to help homeowners identify which wet wipes can be flushed down the toilet safely. Studies have shown that up to 93 percent of the material that causes severe sewage pipe blockages is made up of non-flushable wet wipes, with baby wipes proving to be particularly problematic.
Improving the environment is at the heart of the Fine to Flush standard, with the initiative designed to make it easier for consumers to buy a product which will not clog up drains and sewers or harm the world around them. There are around 300,000 drain and sewer blockages in the UK every year. As well as costing an estimated £100 million to remove, the blockages also lead to floods that damage the environment and pollute rivers and seas.
What does the Fine to Flush standard mean?
The Fine to Flush logo can be displayed on the packaging of wet wipes that do not contain plastic, break down fully in the sewer system and pass a number of strict scientific tests. The tests are carried out by an independent team of experts based in Swindon who have developed the new standard in conjunction with Water UK. Manufacturers of wipes that pass the tests can display the Fine to Flush symbol. Those that don’t are being urged to clearly display ‘do not flush’ on their packaging.
Until now, some products on the market have been labelled as ‘flushable’ but have actually contained plastic fibres and added to the plastic pollution in our oceans. Many supposedly flushable products have also not been designed for the conditions found in UK sewers. The result is that they do not break down quickly enough and contribute to the problem of blockages.
This is the official Fine to Flush logo you should look out for. Remember, if there’s no Fine to Flush logo on the packaging, it must go in the bin.
Local efforts to reduce the occurrence of fatbergs and blockages
The frequency of fatbergs forming in our sewers has been increasing in recent years. This has included a 250-metre long fatberg in Whitechapel, which weighed as much as 19 elephants, and a 64-metre fatberg in Sidmouth, Devon, that was discovered just last month.
Over the last few months, a number of initiatives have been introduced in Fife to reduce the frequency of these gargantuan blockages. The Fat-Free Sewer project saw waste management experts visit every food service establishment in the town of St Andrews. They provided advice about how to dispose of food waste correctly. A former Fife miner has also joined the fight against fatbergs by creating a range of soluble wet wipes that meet the new Fine to Flush standards.
Do you have an unwelcome blockage?
If you have a domestic or commercial drain blockage that needs clearing, want grease trap installation for your food preparation business, or would simply like to discuss what you can and can’t get flush, please get in touch with our team.