Two international industry associations representing companies involved in the global manufacture of hygiene products containing nonwoven textiles have combined forces to launch guidelines for manufacturers to use in determining if their products are suitable for disposal via the wastewater system.
The Guidance Document on the Flushability of Nonwoven Consumer Products, published by INDA and EDANA, represents the first ever initiative to provide companies with a comprehensive framework for testing products to determine their flushability. It reflects the industry's commitment to responsible use and disposal of the products it makes and distributes.
Speaking at the launch of the Guidance Document at the World of Wipes Conference in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Rory Holmes, President of INDA, said, "An increasingly diverse range of disposable hygiene products is now available for consumer use in the home.
Some, which address public health and hygiene considerations, may best be disposed of via the toilet. It is important to ensure that such products can be disposed of in this way without causing problems."
"To date there has been no consistent approach for assessing what constitutes a 'flushable' nonwoven consumer product. This lack of consistency can lead to confusion and a higher risk that products which were never intended to be flushable are disposed via the wastewater system," said Pierre Wiertz, General Manager of EDANA.
The document is the culmination of a three year program of work sponsored by the two industry associations. Technical experts from member companies pooled their own company expertise and drew on the advice and knowledge of experts in academia, consultant engineering and the wastewater industry to develop the recommended approach.
It is a First Edition document which will be updated over time, in partnership with the wastewater industry and associated bodies, as new information comes to hand and new technologies emerge.
Pilot testing of the approach took place over a 12-month period, so that the test methods could be trialed in independent laboratories and could be further refined.
A peer review was also undertaken to ensure that the Guidance Document reflected the best available knowledge and thinking on the subject. The peer review panel endorsed the document as a sound first step.
"Providing technical guidance on what constitutes a flushable product is critical to ensuring compatibility of products with wastewater collection and treatment systems," said Rory Holmes.
"Between INDA and EDANA, we represent over 90 percent of the total volume of nonwoven consumer products on the market in North America and Europe.
We will encourage all our members to use this flushability assessment approach with the goal that before long the Guidance Document will be the industry norm for assessing the flushability of nonwoven consumer products."
"The development of the Guidance Document is one aspect of the industry's work in this important area," said Pierre Wiertz.
"Concise, clear and consistent communications about whether products should be flushed down the toilet is equally important.
Our members have agreed to develop a universal symbol for on-pack labelling which will provide consumers with at-a-glance information about whether the product is appropriate for disposal via the wastewater system."