From The Editor | October 31, 2014

Top 10 Tweets On 'Flushables'


By Kevin Westerling,


Highlights from the #What2Flush Twitter party

With the immense interest that we’re noticing on the issue of “flushables” — or what not to flush to avoid havoc in wastewater collection systems — Water Online decided to dip our toe into some new waters. We recently hosted our first “Twitter party,” or “hashtag chat,” or whatever the kids are calling them these days, and I’m happy to report some very positive outcomes:

  • People actually showed up (you never really know)
  • Conversation was lively and incisive
  • Many solutions, from easy to ambitious, were suggested and discussed

If you’re not familiar with the problems that nondispersible products (especially wipes, often mislabeled as “flushable”) create for wastewater treatment system operators, here’s a good primer on the topic.

The next step is solving the problem, which will only be accomplished through collaboration and awareness. That’s what motivated the #What2Flush Twitter party, and I like to think we moved the needle just a bit. It was also kind of fun.

Here are my 10 favorite tweets from the event.

We started by asking about the most problematic items that go down the drain, but shouldn't.

Wipes pulling a plane? No wonder they clog pumps!

I knew wipes were a huge issue, but the problem of paper towels was a revelation. In another tweet, @JWCmonsters called paper towels "indestructible" and explained that there are "thousands flushed."

Why not just use a trash can? In some places, there are none. "In jails they have no trash can — everything goes down the loo," answered JWC.

Here's an example of what happens when nondispersibles gather in the sewer system.

Looks more like a sewer monster!

We next asked for solutions, and opinions varied.

Legislation — of course! Or wait...

Twitter fight! (Kidding. Everyone gets along at @WaterOnline Twitter parties.)

Regulations could mandate packaging and/or formula changes, but we already have something called "false advertising." I pointed out that some consumers have sued over the "flushable" claim...

An interesting observation/option for municipalities to consider.

The key to flushability is dispersibility, and apparently manufacturers are making inroads.

Also noted by JWC (our most active party participant): "Japan has a national standard for toilet paper dispersibility, and they don't see a wipes problem."

The next two entries could be labeled "serious fun" — outreach efforts about the important subject of #What2Flush.

A "Fantastic Voyage" indeed — entertaining and informative.

More innovation from Japan :)

And finally...

Thank you, @IDontFlushNews, we loved the participation. The message about not flushing pharmaceuticals is also very important; they end up in rivers, streams, and our drinking water.

Remember, it's all "one water," and be careful what you flush. Follow us @WaterOnline to get on the invite list for future Twitter parties.