Our industry has been plagued with the question of flushability since the dawn of the disposable wipe. Baby wipes, really the first type of disposable wipe to hit the mainstream market, are not flushable. However, there are many disposable wipes designed as flushable moist toilet tissue. As you can guess, the consumer confusion over these two seemingly identical wipes is extreme.
Karen McIntyre wrote an article this week for Nonwoven Industry that highlights the updates on the problem fresh from the World of Wipes Conference in Chicago a few weeks ago. As manufacturers and converters, it’s imperative that we stay on top of these industry updates.
There are a couple of main points from the article that the industry is doing now to eliminate confusion and promote and expand the wipes market.
- INDA established a wipes Code of Practice in 2008. INDA president Dave Rousse is concerned that manufacturers and converters who are not following these established guidelines may be hurting the industry. If 93% of wipes are not flushable and, yet, end up being flushed, then there is a serious problem the industry will encounter not only with the wastewater industry but also with consumers whose pipes may get clogged. Rousse is encouraging all manufacturers to use the appropriate “Do Not Flush” logo created by INDA. Likewise, manufacturers who are distributing flushable products should use the flush-friendly logo. When the logos are used industry-wide, confusion should be eliminated on the consumer level.
- Since the Code of Practice was released in 2008, INDA has developed two more editions of these guidelines. The third edition of the wipes guidelines was released in 2013. INDA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) are expected to work together on the fourth edition. The WEF has been adamant that the current flushability tests do not reflect what happens under real-world conditions. Therefore, in order to ensure that flushable wipes really are flushable, the WEF and INDA are devising tests together that more accurately depict the lower energy and lower water volumes in typical sewer systems.
Since the wipes market in the US alone is expected to rise to about $2.9 billion in 2018, manufactures and converters alike need to make the necessary changes now to ensure that they don’t get left behind.
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