Canada leading international effort to develop standards for ‘flushable wipes’

Canada is leading an international work group to come up with an industry-wide standard on so-called flushable wipes.

OTTAWA — Canada is leading an international work group to come up with an industry-wide standard on so-called flushable wipes.

Barry Orr, a waste-water expert from London, Ont., is helming the Geneva-based International Standards Organization’s efforts to develop the standard.

Orr is developing tests that will determine the flushability of a barrage of products on the market that declare themselves sewer- and septic-safe.

He says the ISO is consulting with nations around the world who are grappling with clogged municipal sewage systems.

Orr has been raising alarms bells about the products for years.

Manufacturers say the personal wipes are indeed flushable, and it’s products that weren’t meant to be flushed — including baby wipes and feminine hygiene products — that are causing municipalities trouble.

From Louisiana to southwestern Ontario and the Midlands of England, waste-water experts insist that the popular personal towelettes, branded as a cleaner alternative to toilet paper, are taking a serious toll on sewage systems.

The wipes are a multibillion-dollar business.

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