Flushable wipes

The word flushability refers to products that are suitable or not suitable for disposal down a toilet and to the actions undertaken by the industry together with stakeholders to achieve the following goals;

  • Ensuring products that are marked flushable meet the testing requirements mentioned in the guidelines
  • Inform the consumer on what is flushable or not by having the correct labelling in place and raising awareness of the label
  • Contribute to the joint effort of proper disposable of products to reduce the impact on waste water systems and other potential impacts on the environment
The majority of wipes are not meant to be flushed. EDANA has helped promote the “Do Not Flush" symbol so that consumers are aware of what not to flush. The video below explains how to recognise the symbol and why not flushing wipes with the Do Not Flush symbol is important
Logo do not flush

The Guidelines for Assessing the Flushability of Disposable Nonwoven Products

The nonwovens materials and products suppliers, represented by EDANA and INDA - the Associations representing the vast majority of nonwovens supplied to the market today across EMEA and North America - are committed to communicating to consumers when the toilet is an appropriate disposal route for finished products in the marketplace.

Flushability has been an area of focus since 2004 when the two associations formed industry-based task forces to address the flushability of nonwoven disposable products. Technical experts from member companies worked together to develop a definition of flushability, a technical assessment and test methods. The test methods were based on the combined experience of the nonwoven disposable products industry and drew upon expertise from academia, consultancy and the wastewater industry.

In 2008, the first edition of the Guidelines for Assessing the Flushability of Disposable Nonwoven Products to help wipe manufacturers assess whether their products should be flushed into the wastewater stream was published. The guidelines have been enhanced over the years to ensure continued compatibility with wastewater systems through continuous feedback from stakeholders across the nonwovens and wastewater industries.

Edition Two and Edition Three were published in 2009 and 2013.  The current edition dates from November 2018.

Together, – The aim is to reduce the amount of non-flushable material in the wastewater stream.  Only products labelled “flushable” meet industry guidelines to demonstrate compatibility with wastewater infrastructure.

Labelling: the industry code of practice

Clear communication on packaging helps the consumer in making informed decisions to properly dispose of the products and prevents costly problems at home and at wastewater treatment facilities.

To strengthen this purpose and to make sure that the "Do Not Flush" symbol is clearly signalled, EDANA published in February 2017 EDANA an updated version of the Code of Practice on communicating correct disposal for personal care and cleaning wipes in order to protect wastewater systems.

In March 2018 EDANA released a statement emphasising the importance of the strict implementation of the voluntary labelling code of practice for wet wipes.

This statement is available to download in English, French and German.

Biodegradability of regenerated cellulose / viscose

October 2018: EDANA statement on biodegradability of regenerated cellulose / viscose

There is no justification to ban viscose and lyocell fibres from flushable wipes. This is supported by the following arguments:

  • Viscose and lyocell are not synthetic petrochemical based polymers. Viscose and lyocell are made of wood pulp and consist of the same natural polymer one finds in natural cellulose (cotton). Cellulose is a major component of plant/tree biomass and is the most abundant natural polymer produced by nature. Cellulose is omnipresent and can be found in most organisms. Therefore, its recycling in nature by biodegradation is indispensable for the carbon cycle.

  • The biodegradability of viscose and lyocell fibres in relevant environments (wastewater treatment plants, composting, land fill, soil, sea water etc.) is demonstrated by international standards and certified by international certification organizations such as VINCOTTE or DIN CERTCO.

For more information on non chemically modified cellulose fibres

Industry statements related to flushability

June 2019 - EDANA reasserts effectiveness of industry flushability standard GD4

The Marine Conservation Society has challenged industry guidelines on flushability (GD4) as “insufficient” and recommends consumers not to buy wipes produced to this standard and retailers to not stock them. MCS instead advocate the adoption of the ‘Water Industry Specification’ WIS 4-02-06 to assess the flushability of wipes

Position statement

EDANA unequivocally reasserts the effectiveness of industry flushability standard GD4 and strongly challenges MCS’ claim that it is “insufficient for UK sewers” and that the test methods are not robust enough. GD4 has a history of over 15 years of rigorous testing and regular review that comprehensively demonstrates the compatibility of flushable wipes with wastewater infrastructure. It has proven to be effective in both the test environment and by Water UK’s 2017 study of sewer blockages.

Increased awareness leading to the reduction of the improper disposal of non-flushable wipes fats, oils and grease and will have the largest impact in reducing sewer blockages and marine litter.

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February 2019 - EDANA position on Water UK’s flushability specification and ‘Fine to Flush’ initiative

EDANA and wipes manufacturers were surprised and disappointed to learn of Water UK’s publication of the WIS and new ‘Fine to Flush’ initiative.

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Stakeholders involvement

Product manufacturers

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Wastewater practitioner

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Product users

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Retailers

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Media

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