When it comes to the functionality of our everyday appliances, few things are as essential as a toilet. Yet, something as seemingly simple as flushing can quickly turn into a nightmare if we inadvertently dispose of items that are not flushable. The reliability of packaging in conveying what can and can’t be flushed is an issue that requires attention. In the UK, efforts have been made to address this concern through the introduction of the Fine to Flush certification but greenwashing tactics have muddied the water. In this blog, we will delve into the unreliable nature of packaging regarding what can and can’t be flushed and explore the parameters products must go through to earn the coveted Fine to Flush certification.
The Packaging Problem
In today’s consumer-driven society, packaging plays a crucial role in communicating product information. However, when it comes to toilet flushing, there is a lack of consistency and clarity regarding what items are safe to dispose of in the toilet. Packaging often fails to provide accurate guidance, leading to confusion among consumers. This unreliability poses a significant risk to our sewage systems, causing blockages, environmental pollution, and expensive repairs.
Understanding the Fine to Flush Certification
To combat the challenges posed by unreliable packaging, UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) introduced the Fine to Flush certification in 2017. This certification aims to establish a standardised system that ensures products labelled as flushable are indeed suitable for disposal in toilets. The Fine to Flush logo serves as a mark of distinction, assuring consumers that a product has passed rigorous testing and meets the necessary criteria for safe flushing. It is essential that no matter what else you find on an item of packaging, you only flush something that carries this certification.
Parameters for Fine to Flush Certification
Products seeking the Fine to Flush certification must undergo comprehensive testing to demonstrate their compatibility with UK toilet systems. The testing process includes assessments of dispersibility, biodegradability, and their potential to cause blockages. Here are the key parameters that products must satisfy to earn Fine to Flush certification:
- Dispersibility: Products must be designed to break down quickly and easily in water, preventing them from clumping or causing clogs. This characteristic ensures that flushed items can flow smoothly through the sewage system without causing blockages.
- Biodegradability: Certified products must be biodegradable, meaning they can naturally decompose over time. This quality allows them to break down safely without harming the environment or burdening wastewater treatment facilities.
- Non-Toxicity: Fine to Flush products should not contain any harmful substances that could pose risks to human health or the environment. Strict guidelines are in place to assess the potential impact of chemical components, ensuring they are within acceptable limits.
- Performance Testing: Products undergo rigorous testing to assess their ability to disperse, degrade, and prevent blockages in simulated toilet systems. These tests simulate real-life conditions, providing accurate insights into a product’s suitability for flushing.
The Importance of Fine to Flush Certification
The introduction of Fine to Flush certification brings multiple benefits to both consumers and the environment. For consumers, the logo provides a clear and reliable indicator of what can be safely flushed. This reduces the risk of blockages and potential damage to their plumbing systems. Moreover, it empowers consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase, promoting responsible waste management. That being said, the criteria for a ‘fine flushing’ moment means one item per flush. So only one wet wipe at a time.
From an environmental perspective, the Fine to Flush certification plays a crucial role in minimizing pollution and protecting our waterways. By ensuring that only truly flushable items enter the sewage system, the certification helps prevent the accumulation of non-degradable waste, such as wet wipes, that can cause significant harm to marine life and ecosystems.
Unreliable packaging has long been a challenge when it comes to understanding what can and can’t be flushed in UK toilets. The introduction of the Fine to Flush certification marks a significant step forward in addressing this issue. By establishing standardized parameters and testing processes, the certification ensures that products meet the necessary criteria for safe flushing. But remember, it’s not just down to the products you buy being Fine To Flush, you always need to flush wisely. It’s time to flush away the unreliable packaging and embrace a future where clarity and responsibility reign in our toilets.