What the flush! New research exposes worrying consumer drainage trends

Posted: Friday 15th June 2018

With the Whitechapel fatberg on display at the Museum of London, interest in what goes down our pipes has never been higher. Yet new research suggests that daily consumer habits could be creating many more fatbergs, drain and sewer blockages.

Large quantities of FOG (fat, oil and grease) are poured down the sink daily. A quarter of those surveyed would pour cooking oil down the sink and over 20% would pour meat fat.

Other flushed items include wet wipes, tampons and condoms as well as the more unusual: hamsters and illegal drugs.

Wastewater and drainage company UKDN Waterflow has commissioned a new survey to uncover the nation's knowledge of what should and shouldn't go down our drains.

The results are eye-opening. Despite 94% of people claiming to be confident, plenty of bad habits continue:

13% of people flush medicine, which is severely contaminating the marine life of the nation's waterways

14% of people flush various wet wipes; despite research by Water UK finding that wipes contribute up to 93% of material in sewer blockages and record numbers of wet wipes being found on the shores of the Thames.

Meanwhile, just under 15% of women flush either tampons, applicators or wrappers and 5% of those surveyed flush condoms

An outrageous 3% of people admit to have flushing dead hamsters

Millennials are six times more likely than the over 55s to pour cooking oil down the drain. What's more, 20% of millennials said they wouldn't care or would actually be amused if a fatberg were found on their street 1 in 4 people pour cooking oil, and almost half pour sauces down the sink which hardens in pipes and solidifies to form gross fatbergs.

UKDN's Ross Gylanders commented, "There's loads of noise about the Whitechapel fatberg, especially given that it's currently on display at the Museum of London. But what are we actually doing to prevent more fatbergs appearing in our towns and cities?

It's up to everyone to take responsibility for their own flushing habits. It's our duty to educate ourselves and make the correct decisions whether to bin or flush our waste products."

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March 2021

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