Human society has progressed through the Ice, Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. Sometime during the mid-20th century, we entered the “Disposable Age” where “convenience” became the touchstone, and an increasing number of consumer products were designed to be discarded after a single use. Today, the nonwoven fabric successor to the dampened washcloth – marketed as wet wipes for a variety of different purposes — generates more than $5 Billion for manufacturers in a single year.
There are “wipes” for virtually every household and personal hygiene purpose. The original product was intended as a handy diaper clean-up for babies and young children; meant to be folded into the disposable diaper and discarded in the trash. During the last decade; however, marketers have targeted adults to offer products intended to supplement or replace toilet paper. Convenience and “clean” appear to trump all other purchase motivations. We are suckers for products that promise to save time and money, and still get the job done with little or no effort. Unfortunately, when it comes to supposedly “flushable” wipes, many of these man-made fiber products turn out to be nearly indestructible, so they ‘flush down, but they don’t flush out!”
Sewer systems around the world are now teeming with millions of flushed wipes that form monstrous “WIPES-BERGS” when they encounter another sewer enemy that gets carelessly dumped down kitchen sinks – F.O.G. (Fats Oils and Grease). The end result is not only a costly, disgusting mess for wastewater treatment plants but also translates to water and sewer price increases for customers. As an example, in New York City alone the amount of wipes extracted from sewage waste has reached about 1.3 billion cubic feet each year – with a hefty annual price tag of about $3 million. The cost to the city’s taxpayers is even higher; the outlay for wipes-related damages to sewer infrastructure was about $18 million over 5 years.
Water treatment experts are calling this proliferation of flushed wipes a global CRISIS. They are working with product manufacturers to encourage “flushable” content and advertising standards and, at the same time, conducting campaigns to re-educate consumer behavior to promote proper disposal. Patty Potty’s NO WIPES IN THE PIPES campaign is resonating with municipalities, water plant operators AND consumers!