Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT January 2017

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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12 | JANUARY 2017 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Industry leader Rachel Dyson, Programme Manager, Anglian Water "We have been quiet as an industry on wet wipes, but now we are being vocal, because of the problems they are causing." manufacturers to mark products as 'do not ush' until such a point as an ISO technical standard on ushability is agreed with the water industry. So what are the chances of progress being made in this arena? One of the industry gures on the front line of the wet wipes battle is Rachel Dyson, Programme Manager at Anglian Water, who leads the utility's 'Keep it Clear' campaign and also chairs the Water UK Sewer Network Abuse Prevention group. She was involved in dialogue with manufacturers as part of a BSI committee which was working towards an ISO standard on ushability, but this committee was suspended a† er the parties could not agree. "The ushability ISO working group were looking at wipes, and although we reached a lot of agreement, there were still key areas where we disagreed," says Dyson. "One is disintegration: basically, we want a wipe to break up more than the manufacturers do. The manufacturers' current guidelines, GB3, say a wipe has to break up by 25 per cent. But we would argue, what about the other 75 per cent? The other issues are biodegradation – whether what happens when a wipe breaks down a" ects the environment – and the emerging issue of microplastics." With agreement on an ISO standard unlikely, the water industry lobby is now pursuing another approach: get the UK testing guidelines (which consist of seven tests agreed by UK water companies) agreed by other water utilities globally, and then persuade retailers to exert pressure on manufacturers. Many in the water industry, including European water sector organisation Eureau, maintain a hard line that only the so-called 3Ps (poo, pee and paper) should be ushed down the toilet. However, since it is a fact that customers now demand ushable wipes, the industry might as well face this head on and at least ensure that those labelled ushable are meeting minimum guidelines, argues Dyson. "Ideally, there would be no ushable wipes on the market until an agreement had been reached," says Dyson. "However, the shelves are awash with ushable products. We have been W hile there are many items that can cause problems when they nd their way into our sewer networks, there is one product that is rmly established as public enemy number one - wet wipes. Clinging to pipes, pumps and other solid items, and o† en congealing with fats and grease to cause blockages, wet wipes are the scourge of the sewer, and the industry is desperate to educate the public about not putting them down the toilet. However, it has found this message undermined by the packaging of the products themselves, which are o† en infuriatingly labelled as ' ushable'. Water UK recently wrote to trading standards to formally complain about the issue, while the argument has gone international in the last month as a statement signed by 281 utility companies around the world called for Interview by James Brockett

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