Friday, October 31st12.3°C
21625
22916

Canada leading international effort to develop standards for 'flushable wipes'

OTTAWA - Canada is leading an international work group to come up with an industry-wide standard for so-called flushable wipes as waste-water experts in North America and beyond blame the personal towelettes for a host of sewage system problems.

Barry Orr, a waste-water official in London, Ont., is among the Canadians leading the Geneva-based International Standards Organization's efforts to develop the standard.

Orr is currently developing tests that will determine the flushability of a barrage of products on the market that declare themselves sewer- and septic-safe.

"Canada is at the forefront in addressing the flushability of these products," Orr, who has been raising alarms bells about the products for years, said in a recent interview.

"We're leading the ISO, and we're working with nations across the globe to make improvements."

Flushable wipes are a multibillion-dollar business.

But from Louisiana to southwestern Ontario and rural England, plumbers and waste-water experts say the pre-moistened wipes, branded as a cleaner alternative to toilet paper, are taking a terrible toll on residential pipes and municipal sewage systems, causing major clogs and sewer backups.

Just last month, officials in the Minnesota town of Cambridge said they suspected personal wipes were the culprit after 20,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into a river after a backup at a waste-water treatment facility.

The manufacturers, meantime, say their products are accurately labelled as safe to go down the toilet, and have been subjected to a litany of flushability tests. It's products that aren't meant to be flushed — including baby wipes and feminine hygiene products — that are causing municipalities trouble, they say.

The companies are pushing for a joint education and awareness campaign, together with environmental agencies, that would alert people about the dangers of flushing products that weren't meant to go down the toilet.

South of the border, however, the Federal Trade Commission has been looking into the manufacturers' claims that the wipes are flushable. An official at Canada's Competition Bureau, meantime, says he "cannot confirm whether or not we are currently looking into this matter."

In recent weeks, several American communities have pleaded with citizens to stop flushing the wipes.

"When you flush them, coming to the wastewater plant, they don't degrade in a timely manner so they clog up the system," said an official in Lake Charles, La.

A California woman has also launched a class-action lawsuit against Kimberly Clark, maker of Cottonelle Fresh Care personal wipes, claiming she paid a premium for a product that advertises itself as safe to flush but is not.

The ISO is a global standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. The Standards Council of Canada says it's "supporting the participation of Canadian key subject matter experts in international standardization activities."

Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter @leeanne25

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

23015


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14576.74+118.05
S&P CDNX764.91-6.74
DJIA17337.73142.31
Nasdaq4618.248+52.11
S&P 5002011.29+16.64
CDN Dollar0.8872-0.0062
Gold1169.30-29.2999
Oil80.37-0.53
Lumber325.70+2.10
Natural Gas3.715+0.066

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.12+0.01
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.19+0.04
Cantex0.045-0.015
Anavex Life Sciences0.185+0.0139
Metalex Ventures0.03-0.005
Russel Metals32.64+0.42
Copper Mountain Mining2.035+0.065
Colorado Resources0.125-0.015
ReliaBrand Inc0.015+0.003
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.05+0.025
Mission Ready Services0.3750.00

 





FEATURED Property
2079802405-3180 Beaver Lake Road
2 bedrooms 2 baths
$189,900
more details
image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Empty nesting: financial issues

Now that the children have ‘left the nest’, it is a good time to step back and take stock of your financial situation. Being on your own will probably cut household costs to some extent, b...


Keep your haunted home safe

Eerie sounds, spooky lights and Jack-o’-lanterns aglow—extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. However, to keep the fun going, it’s imp...


What I learned in China

Photo: ContributedI will never be an expert on China. It is just too big, too complex and too old with layers of history and meaning that would take several lifetimes to unravel. As I said to my hosts...

_








Member of BC Press Council


23691