Baby wipes, tampons, kitty litter, facial towelettes – even a toilet brush – are now being marketed as "flushable" or “biodegradeable.” Despite this marketing trick, they do not break down in the sewer system. For example, while toilet paper breaks down immediately, independent tests show that wipes change very little even after an hour of continuous flushing action. After testing the disintegration rate of flushable wipes, Consumer Reports advised readers to dispose of them in the trash.
Moistened toilet tissue can be used as an alternative to wipes and does not contain potentially irritating chemicals such as fragrances.
If flushables do make it to our plant they cause problems. The first problem is that the towelletes and wipes ball up inside our main pumps -- to the point they become "rag bound" and cannot pump the wastewater. Twice a week two employees must spend four hours shutting down the pumps, opening them up and removing 20 pound lumps of rags and wipes. Not pretty! If they make it past the pumps, they must be screened out at our headworks and then trucked to the landfill. This is more costly than putting them in the trash in the first place and is something we all pay for -- long after manufactures make their profit.
Most importantly, these are also notorious for catching on bends and obstructions in your home's sewer lines and laterals. These lead to costly clogs, backed up pipes and sewer overflows.