QUU staff member Melissa McGovern stands in front of wet wipes that have been flushed down the toilet.
QUU staff member Melissa McGovern stands in front of wet wipes that have been flushed down the toilet. Ashley Roach - Fullframe Photogr

'Disgusting' and expensive result of flushing wet wipes

MAKERS of so-called 'flushable' wet wipes have come under fire in the last 24 hours as consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced they would take court action.

The ACCC alleges the use of the word 'flushable' on packaging is misleading and have launched legal action against two major wet wipe manufacturers Kimberly-Clark and Pental.

An example of the kind of destruction reaped by wet wipes in a sewer system.
An example of the kind of destruction reaped by wet wipes in a sewer system.

The companies could be hit with more than $1 million in fines if the consumer watchdog is successful.

Earlier this year Queensland Urban Utilities revealed Ipswich residents have been flushing 120 tonnes of wet wipes down their toilets each year, resulting in a $2.5 million headache for Queensland Urban Utilities staff.

RELATED: 'Flushable' wet wipes a $2.5m problem for Ipswich

QUU spokesperson, Michelle Cull, said flushing wet wipes could also cause major problems for homeowners.

"Flushing the wrong thing down the toilet can cause blockages, not only in our network, but household pipes, leaving homeowners with expensive plumbing bills," she said.

Nationally the wipes cause blockages that cost more than $15 million to fix.

Queensland Urban Utilities welcomed the ACCC decision to take court action against the 'flushable' wet wipe suppliers.

RELATED: Stop flushing wet wipes, so we can stop the fatbergs

Ms Cull said was a positive step towards solving a big problem for sewer pipes.

"Wet wipes, including those labelled 'flushable', don't disintegrate quickly like toilet paper and can lead to costly blockages in our network," she said.

STOP THE FLUSH: Queensland Urban Utilities’ Michelle Cull and Col Hester at the pump station.
STOP THE FLUSH: Queensland Urban Utilities’ Michelle Cull and Col Hester at the pump station. Contributed

"We spend around $1.5 million every year (in Queensland) clearing blockages from our sewers.

"We also remove around 20 million wet wipes from our sewage treatment plants annually, which laid end-to-end would stretch from Brisbane to Bali.

"Labelling can be confusing for shoppers, so we welcome the ACCC's decision and will be following the matter with interest."



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