Too many damaging products being flushed

Water New Zealand says that wastewater treatment plants around the country are under growing stress because of the huge number of products that are flushed away. This includes not just products containing microbeads but also wipes which are often used for cosmetics and cleaning.

This problem is not unique to New Zealand. According to a separate report by Wired, a wastewater treatment plant in Germany has curated a miniature museum collecting the bizarre items that they have found flushed down the toilet.

Water New Zealand’s chief executive John Pfahlert says many people are not aware of the huge problems that wipes cause to sewers.

“Wipes clog the sewers, causing overflow into rivers and the ocean, as well as creating a costly clean-up for ratepayers,” said Mr Pfahlert. “Water New Zealand and others in the sector have been working with the industry to try to reduce the impact of wipes on the environment but it is still a major problem.

“We need to remember that everything we flush finds its way into a wastewater treatment plant and then to oceans, rivers or onto the land.”

Mr Pfahlert says he welcomes the government’s proposed ban on microbeads as a good step in the right direction but “would like to see more done to prevent other products being incorrectly disposed of in sewers.”

Retrieved from Scoop / Additional reporting by WWA