Waitrose aims to help wipe out sewer blockages with UK's first 'fine to flush' wipes


A "flusher"works on a 'fatberg' in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London. Photo: Getty Images

Waitrose has become the first UK supermarket to achieve “Fine to Flush” certification for its own-brand wet wipes.

The supermarket’s own-brand fragrance-free moist toilet tissue refills and lightly fragranced moist toilet tissue refills will now carry the Fine to Flush logo.

The certification was launched in January by Water UK, which represents water companies across the UK, with the tests being carried out by technical experts WRc.

READ MORE: Tesco “could ban brands” with excessive plastic from shelves

It clarifies what can be flushed down the toilet safely, as wipes labelled “flushable” do not break down, and have been found to cause drain blockages and fatbergs, leading to marine pollution.

Wipes with the “fine to flush” logo break down quickly and easily in the sewer system.

Waitrose said it is working towards making sure all of its own-brand “flushable” wipes meet the new standard soon.

The wipes have ‘Fine to Flush’ certification and are fragrance free.

READ MORE: Boots swaps plastic for brown paper bags

It became one of the first UK retailers in 2017 to ensure label all wipes not designed to be flushed are clearly labelled with “do not flush”.

Wet wipes have become increasingly common in UK households, with market research suggesting Brits now used 450 billion a year – 14,000 a second.

Tor Harris at Waitrose said: “It’s an issue we have to tackle and have been working on with our suppliers for some time.

READ MORE: Making waves – female round-the-world crew to fight ocean plastic

“We know we still have more work to do, but this is a big step forward and gives us a platform to build on for the rest of our range.”

Earlier this year, the Marine Conservation Society urged Brits not to buy own-brand wipes that clog up drains, and instead choose alternatives.

Dr Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the Marine Conservation Society said: “It’s great news that Waitrose has listened to our call for own-brand wipes labelled as ‘flushable’ to pass the water industry standard.”

READ MORE: You eat a credit card equivalent of plastic every week

The organisation urged not only other retailers to follow suit but major, international brands.

“Customers need to know that when they are instructed to flush, the product really is safe for sewers and won't contribute to blockages and fatbergs,” added Foster.

Organic health and beauty brand Natracare’s became the first to have its wet wipes be awarded the Fine to Flush certification in February.