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PR Puffs: Don't go breaking your bog

The important tissues of the day

Published on April 17th 2013.

PR Puffs: Don't go breaking your bog

MERSEYSIDERS have thrown £13 million down the drain by flushing the wrong things down the loo. 

New research from a water utilities company shows that one in 10 of them has blocked their toilet by flushing items such as baby wipes, make-up wipes, sanitary products and cotton buds - paying an average of £99 for a plumber to repair it. 

Across Merseyside’s adult population of 1.1m that adds up to a whopping £13 million bill. 

Flushing HabitsFlushing habits around hereThe water utilities company which serves 3m households and a total population of 7m in the North West, says toilet wipes are the most common issue across the region. Three quarters of people in the North West surveyed think it is OK to dispose of toilet wipes down the loo – with 49pc in Merseyside admitting they had done just that. 

And to help get the message across, it has produced an ‘educational pop video’ spoofing the classic MC Hammer hit alongside this infographic that illustrates North West flushing habits. 

Liverpudlians are the worst in the North West for flushing make-up wipes down the loo – 15pc admitted to flushing them, compared to 11pc across the region.

The labelling of so-called ‘flushable’ products is a key cause of the confusion: 83pc of Merseysiders said that if an item was labelled ‘flushable’, they thought it was safe to dispose of it down the toilet.

But wipes don’t break down in the same way as toilet paper and these – along with other wrong items flushed down the loo – contribute to the 53,000 blockage call-outs handled by United Utilities each year, at a cost of £20 million. They can also end up on rivers and beaches. 

You Can't Flush ThisTheir picture, not oursTony Griffiths, Wastewater Manager, said: “There are only three things that can be safely flushed down the loo without danger of blockage – pee, poo and toilet paper.  Flushing other items risks a big plumbing bill, as well as environmental damage.

“The problem is that labelling a product ‘flushable’ is misleading – yes you can flush it out of sight but it will get stuck further down the pipe. And with such a multitude of cleaning and cleansing wipes now being actively marketed as “flushable”, we felt we needed to do more to raise awareness of this problem.”

Featuring MC Plumber, and his sidekicks Dwayne Pipe and Ella Vamess, You Can’t Flush This aims to raise awareness of the various items that cause blockages and re-enforce the message “Pee, Poo, Paper – That’s It!”.

Plumber Ged Atkins has first-hand (so to speak) experience of the issue. He said: “I’ve been a plumber for over 20 years and one of the most common problems I’m called out to deal with is blocked pipes caused by flushing the wrong things down the loo.

“It’s such an easy problem to solve and while the ‘MC Plumber’ video may be a bit of fun, behind it is an important message that could end up helping a lot of North West residents to keep their pipes clear – avoiding unnecessary hassle and cost.”

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