Authorities are working on new ‘flushability’ standards to reduce the plague of fatbergs in sewers. 

Australia’s first draft National Standard for products labelled ‘flushable’ is open for public comment - a potential breakthrough in the war against sewer-clogging wet wipe blockages known as ‘fabergs’.

The announcement follows trials by Queensland provider Urban Utilities at Australia’s largest replica sewer in Brisbane, to help develop new tests that wipes will need to pass to carry a new ‘flushable’ label.

“Each year we remove around 120 tonnes of wipes – which is the equivalent of 34 hippos – from our network,” Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull says. 

“The problem is that many wipes don’t break down like toilet paper after they’re flushed and can cause costly blockages in our sewer network as well as people’s private plumbing.

“Most consumers want to do the right thing but without a clear Australian standard on what should be labelled as flushable, they’re being left in the dark.”

Ms Cull said the new National Standard would lead to clearer labelling and give consumers confidence that they’re only flushing products which will break down.

“The draft standard outlines clear testing criteria for manufacturers and covers the ‘flushability’ of a wide range of disposable products including tampons, paper towels and even kitty litter,” she said.

“It’s a real game-changer and will help consumers better understand how they can protect their private household plumbing and our sewer network.”

Colin Hester from Urban Utilities said Standards Australia worked closely with the Water Services Association of Australia, utilities, manufacturers and consumer groups to develop the draft flushability standard.

“This is the first time in the world that utilities and manufacturers have come together to define a clear and mutually accepted pass/fail criteria of what should and should not be flushed,” he said.

“Until the new standard is in place, the advice remains to only flush the three Ps – pee, poo and paper.”

The draft standard DR AS/NZS 5328, Flushable Products, will be open for public comment though the Standards Australia website for the next nine weeks, before being finalised and published.