Northumbrian Water’s Bin The Wipe campaign aims to help people understand the problems caused by sewer blockages containing wipes that have been flushed down the toilet.
By helping people understand that this can cause waste to back up into people’s homes, or be forced out into the environment, the water company hopes to encourage people to put wipes into the bin, not down the loo.
Around 4,500 homes in the TS10 4 area will this week receive letters explaining the issues, and how a team will be monitoring the area’s sewers, finding flushed wipes and tracking back up the network to the properties from which they were flushed.
As the team close in on streets, or even individual homes from which wipes are being flushed, further letters and doorstep conversations will reinforce the need for people to stop using their toilets as bins.
Simon Cyhanko, Northumbrian Water’s Head of Wastewater Networks, said: “Wipes that have been flushed down the toilet are the number one contributor to blockages in our sewers. We find them in more than 60% of the blockages we clear.
“Even when the package says they are ‘flushable’, they can settle or catch in the pipes, gather with other wipes and stop the things we should be putting down the loo – toilet paper, pee and poo – from going to our treatment works. When that happens, the results can be horrendous, with all that waste being forced out of the pipe, either into the environment or even back into people’s homes.
“We know not everybody in the area flushes wipes, and we thank those who dispose of them properly. However, those who do are putting not just their own homes, but those of the people who live near them, at risk of sewer flooding.
“And the crazy thing is, it’s the easiest thing in the world to stop. Simply don’t use your toilet as a bin – put your wipes in the bin. Bin The Wipe.”
When Northumbrian Water first launched Bin The Wipe at the start of 2020, it trialled a different initiative in other parts of the TS10 area of Redcar, giving away bins. More than 50% of homes do not have bins in their bathrooms, and the aim was to make better flushing habits as easy as possible.
While this pilot was a success, resulting in a 43% reduction in the number of blockages caused by wipes in the area, a trial of the letters and tracking took place in Stockton, with even greater success, and this is now being rolled out in flushing hot spots across the North East.
Simon said: “The bin giveaway was a big success and we would like to thank all of those who have made a change, and who still put their wipes in the bin, not down the toilet. However, this area is still of concern, with blockages and flooding being caused by wipes. So, we are coming back and we hope that we can make an even bigger, lasting and positive difference for the people of Redcar.”