Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT January 2017

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/762480

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 39

www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | JANUARY 2017 | 25 In the know Digging deeper: wastewater networks What can be done to stop an A-Z of inappropriate items being flushed down the toilet? Fergal Campbell of waste management specialists CDEnviro looks at a tough-to-tackle problem T he type and range of inappropriate material that people flush down the toilet will come as no surprise to water industry professionals. It's to be hoped, however, that some items at least, such as car keys and teddy bears are accidental victims, flushed alongside the more common wet wipes, sanitary towels, tights and the like. There are almost as many reasons people flush the wrong things down the toilet as there are types of items they flush. It may be embarrassment when disposing of a personal hygiene item, a misunderstanding or overconfidence of what the sewer system can take, or a lack of knowledge of what can and can't be flushed. A survey of women in the UK found nearly half (41%) said they flushed sanitary items down the toilet and didn't know they shouldn't. Whatever is causing the behaviour, we need to help consumers change their practices. Unflushables: driving us round the U-bend Fergal Campbell CUsTomCARE mANAgER CDENviRo rather than expecting wholesale immediate changes. This includes ideas such as encouraging people to bin their cigarette butts by using bins as a voting system (with each butt counting as a vote). A street in London was remarkably cleaner aƒer asking people to choose between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world's best footballer. However, large scale behaviour change efforts can only go so far no matter how persuasive the message seems, as long-running campaigns such as those to stop littering or encourage recycling prove. They will never reach everyone or eradicate the problem entirely. A more collaborative, multi-faceted approach is required to address the bigger issues. manufacturing and marketing flush friendly products Where our sewers are concerned, manufacturers and marketers have a key role to play in ensuring their products do not mislead consumers into thinking they can be flushed when they shouldn't be. This is the basis of the recently launched campaign by Wessex Water and backed by City to Sea, Surfers Against Sewage, the Marine Conservation Society and Litter Free Coast and Sea, calling for a ban on the word 'flushable' on wet wipes, which do not break down like conventional toilet paper aƒer going down the U bend. The swiƒ action taken by the Government to ban microbeads in cosmetic goods shows that such campaigns can be very effective. Wet wipes are oƒen branded as flushable but were reportedly responsible for more than two thirds of blockages in the West Country region last year. With mixed messages coming from water companies and manufacturers, it's no wonder consumers struggle to take on board behaviour change initiatives. persuasive messaging The first, and seemingly most straightforward, way to reduce the amount of inappropriate material being deposited into our drains and sewers is to educate people of the problems caused when anything other than bodily waste and tissue paper are flushed. This is a powerful message to share and one you'd expect people to listen to; no-one wants sewage returning to the surface in their home or garden following a blockage. Newspaper headlines about 'fatbergs' and social media activity, such as videos showing drains being cleared can help immensely. Wessex Water has launched a campaign designed to encourage people to 'love your loo' by only flushing the three Ps (paper, poo and pee). Behaviour change campaigns of this kind can be very successful, particularly the more nuanced ones, which aim to 'nudge' people towards a different approach A blocked sewer in the Wessex region

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Water & Wastewater Treatment - WWT January 2017