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Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Completed Research

CP311  Impact on the Drainage System of Disposable Products Sewerage
Project Appreciation and Objectives

Each year more and more disposable products find their way to market and many, particularly sanitary products, are specifically designed to be flushable. Even products not intended for WC disposal, such as nappies, razors and cotton buds, commonly find their way into the sewer system.

Relatively little is known about the behaviour of these products in the sewer networks, for example, whether they will strand and cause blockages, make blockage clearance more difficult or if they will biodegrade. It is also unknown if the increasing use of low water use toilets and appliances will worsen the situation.

This project develops a clear understanding of the problem, develop guidance on what can and can't be flushed, identify appropriate disposal routes and gauge the likely public reaction. It also examines the impact of low-flush toilets and investigate the impact of non-disposable products flushed down the toilet.

Benefits to Clients

  • Clear understanding about what can be reasonably flushed down the toilet.
  • Opportunity to influence the design and development of flushable products, through test protocols.
  • Common framework to engage with local authorities to produce public guidance on sustainable disposal routes.
  • Better understanding on how to influence customer behaviour in the disposal of sanitary products.

Work Programme

  1. Develop a protocol for testing the flushability of products in a range of pipe sizes and flow conditions.
  2. Devise and trial a test for the ability to jet and/or rod blockages containing significant proportions of sanitary products.
  3. Review ranges of current and future products and examine alternative disposal routes, and the drivers that will influence customers' disposal route choice.
  4. Examine the most sustainable option for disposal of a number of current products.

Project Output

  • A new protocol to assess "flushability" of a proposed new product.
  • A new protocol for jetting/rodding of blockages comprised of high proportions of 'flushable products'.
  • Guidance on appropriate, sustainable, disposal routes for 'flushable products'.
  • Guidance on raising stakeholder awareness of the issues and alternative disposal routes available.

Related WRc Work

  • Fats, Oils and Greases programme CP290, 2005-2008
  • Managing the risks of critical sewers and trunk water mains, CP220, 2005.
  • Various blockage investigations and issues majority of UK sewerage undertakers, 1998-2006
  • Sewer cleaning and jetting numerous sewerage undertakers, 2002-2005.
  • Product testing work for manufacturers of flushable products various clients 1996-2006.

Duration: 12 months

WRc's Portfolio Programme
Summary of the £1.5 million per annum research programme

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