Water Industry News

3,000 Tonnes Of Unflushable Items Sent Down The Drain!

It’s essential that only flushable items are sent down into the sewer network if the environment is to be protected, but it seems that there are still many out there who are unaware of what can and can’t be flushed.


In the east of England, for example, nearly 3,000 tonnes of unflushable items have been sent down the drain over the last 12 months – which is the equivalent of approximately 30 blue whales, according to Anglian Water!


The rubbish being wrongfully flushed includes wet wipes, sanitary items, cotton buds, nappies and disposable face masks. Each year, the water supplier has to clear more than 40,000 blockages because of wrongly flushed items, as well as a buildup of greases, fats and oils… and 80 per cent of these blockages could be avoided!


It costs Anglian Water £19 million annually to remove these blockages, which can also result in sewer spills, causing further pollution to the wider environment.


This month is Unblocktober – the world’s first awareness month designed to tackle fatbergs and stop plastic pollution – with the aim of the campaign to improve the health of the nation’s drains, sewers and watercourses by educating people about what can and can’t go down the drain.


Anglian Water’s Regan Harris explained that the east of England has 76,000km of sewer pipes, which is enough to go around the world twice – but the majority of the blockages across the network are preventable, which would reduce sewage spills and environmental harm, as well as saving millions in clearance costs each year.


“At a time when protecting our planet for the future is really at the forefront of all our minds, there’s something really simple we can all do at home to make a huge difference. The message is simple – bin it, don’t flush it. Only the three Ps go down the toilet – that’s pee, poo and (toilet) paper,” she went on to say.


Official stats show that eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the ocean every year, 180 million cotton buds are estimated to be flushed down the toilet annually, 48 per cent of the nation pour fats, oils and grease down the drain and 48 per cent of people have flushed wet wipes.


Unblocktober itself was launched back in 2019, when over 4,500 Brits around the country pledged to change kitchen and bathroom habits, both at home and at work. Last year, over 14,500 people made similar pledges!


Arguably, it’s even more important to sign up to the campaign this year, with fatbergs and blockages increasing as a result of the pandemic, with recycling habits falling by the wayside and discarded face masks and rubber gloves beginning to clog the waterways.


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