New Wet Wipe Specifications – Are They Stringent Enough?

In the April 2019 issue of Environmental Science & Engineering Magazine, wastewater industry experts weigh in on new regulations put in place for flushability claims made on the labels of wet wipes.

So, what’s the verdict? It’s a toss up. Some wastewater operators in Canada are pleased with this step forward for the industry saying that they believe these new specifications on wipes labeled as “flushable” will begin to help reduce the cost and headache of blocked sewer pipes across the country. On the other hand, these new regulations aren’t stringent enough for the rest of the industry experts. The experts point out that the governing association that created the regulations – INDA and EDANA, both profit from non-woven fabric and wet wipes industry sales.

Wipes are created from a combination of natural and manmade fibers to make up a nonwoven sheet. The components include: cellulose, cotton, regenerated cellulose, polyester and high-density polyethylene. There are two ways to fabricate the materials into the end product; the first way is by mixing the materials at various ratios through hydroentanglement, which is when high speed jets of water strike a web of fibers so that they knot around one another. The other way nonwovens are created is with heat. The materials are mixed when the polymer is heated to a high temperature when extruded through small nozzles while hot air is being blown. The resulting products of each method is a material that has a very high wet-strength.

Even with the new specifications and reports of “flushable” wipes, research has concluded the even these wipes still don’t mimic toilet paper, as they are too thick and retain too much strength to break down fully. On average, toilet paper loses 90% of its strength when wet while flushable wet wipes only lose about 29%.

Read the full article below on pages 6-8: