Kimberly-Clark, the company behind the world’s best-known tissues; Kleenex, are under fire. Sydney Water are urging their citizens to consider their flushing habits in an attempt to tackle the increasing issue of Fatbergs in the cities’ sewers.
Fatbergs are the result when wet wipes, amongst other materials, are improperly disposed of by flushing them down toilets. These materials then congeal with FOG (Fat, Oils and Grease) found in sewers and from a single, problematic mass. Fatbergs can cause severe blockages due and can costs millions in taxpayer money to be removed.
Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission questioned Kimberly-Clark’s branding of their Kleenex Cottontelle wipes as a “flushable” wet wipe. ACCC alleged that Kimberly-Clark had mislead customers with their advertising and ultimately breached consumer law. Chairman Rod Sims stated:
“Kimberly-Clark’s flushable claims should have been found to be misleading because there was evidence of the risk of harm these wipes posed to the sewerage system”
The risk of harm he’s talking about; Fatbergs. Sydney Water backed up these claims that, from their perspective, no wet wipes should be considered “flushable”. Sydney Water spokesperson, Peter Hadfield, added:
“Consumers are using wet wipes and flushing them down their toilets because a number of brands still have flushable written on them, or there is the perception they are flushable”.
Statistics published from Sydney Water state that a half tonne of wet wipes are removed from Sydney sewers each year at a cost of over 8 million tax-payer dollars. These figures are meagre compared to British counterparts. Thames Water spends an estimated £1 million every month in clearing their sewers of fatbergs. Nonetheless, the issue is developing in Australia and Sydney Water are keen to nip it in the bud.
Ultimately, Kimberly-Clark escaped any punishment or fines for the branding of their products. ACCC were ordered to pay all costs of the trial. The decision has been met unfavourably by a host of water utility and environmental groups. However, the case has brought attention to the Fatberg issue and how the proper disposal of all wipes can help fight the problem.
By treating our sewers properly, we can work together to reduce the occurrence of fatbergs and lower plumbing bills. This is just one of many practices, including the proper disposal of commercial kitchen oils and grease, that can help keep our sewers clean and healthy. For more information and advice on how your kitchen can help make a difference, please contact us HERE.