Build a better bog roll

A REPORT published last year by Water UK, an industry body, said that more than 90% of sewer-pipe blockages in Britain were caused by “non-flushable wipes”. Accumulations of these can clog up pumps. Worse, when they are gathered together by the adhesive power of kitchen grease, they can form giant “fatbergs” that choke the passage of effluent.

Some of the wipes in question were for cleaning surfaces or removing cosmetics. Most of those that could be identified, though, were for wiping babies’ bottoms. And probably not only those of babies. As people grow richer, they can afford more comfortable means of personal hygiene, so many adult nether regions are probably being tended to in this way as well.

Ordinary toilet paper is not a problem for sewers. It disintegrates rapidly, after being flushed, into the fibres from which it is made. Wet-wipes are different. To keep them intact while damp, before and during use, their fibres are held together by resins. But these…Continue reading

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