Ask the Q is calling on wet wipes brand owners to remove the word ‘flushable’ from their packaging and any claims that their wipes are flushable from all promotional materials and webpages. Companies should also clearly state that their wipes are not flushable by using a widely-recognised ‘do not flush’ symbol, preferably on the front of the product.

The problem

Higher water bills

The water industry has long called for only pee, poo and paper to go down the toilet because even ‘flushable’ wipes can cause blockages in sewage pipes. This costs water companies millions of pounds every year to clear, resulting in higher water bills.

Pollution

Wet wipes can also leak out into waterways and onto beaches from overflow pipes, polluting riverbanks and beaches. They also contribute to the growing amount of plastic entering the marine food chain.

 Analysis

In June 2016 The Times published an Ask the Q poll, which found that two-thirds of companies that make ‘flushable’ wet wipes refused to remove the word ‘flushable’ from their products. Ask the Q approached 28 brand owners of toddler wipes, feminine wipes, incontinence wipes or surface cleaning wipes and 15 responded. Among the 10 companies defending claims that their wipes can be flushed down the toilet were household names: Andrex (Kimberly-Clark), Lil-lets (Premier Foods), Method, Naty, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose. Only Peppa Pig made a commitment to remove this wording in 2017.

 Consumer action

Ask the Q backs the Marine Conservation Society’s joint initiative with the water industry, calling on wet wipes brand owners to remove ‘flushable’ from their wipes packaging but consumers, with all their purchasing power, can act today:

  • Don’t put any wipes down the toilet
  • Email/tweet (#AsktheQ) your preferred brand if it claims its wipes are flushable:
    •  Ask them to remove the word ‘flushable’
    • Ask them to clearly state the wipes are not flushable
  • Don’t buy wipes that say they are flushable

 www.asktheq.org