Collaborative Campaign Cuts Clogging from Non-Flushable Materials in Maine’s Wastewater by 50 Percent According to Initial Post Study
Cary, NC – INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, has been recognized for its environmental stewardship with a 2014 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Merit Award for a public awareness campaign that successfully reduced the amount of non-flushable baby wipes found in the wastewater system in Portland, Maine.
INDA was lauded for its outstanding efforts in preserving New England’s environment with the award for the campaign, “Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes.” The award was presented to INDA during ceremonies on Earth Day, April 22, in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass.
(Left to right ) Patricia W. Aho, Commissioner, State of Maine, Department of Environmental Protection, presents 2014 U.S. EPA Merit Award to Joan Izzo, INDA Director of Marketing; and Aubrey Strause, P.E., 2014 President, Maine Waste Water Control Association.
The campaign, a joint effort with the Maine Wastewater Control Association (MWWCA) and Portland Water District, included television and print ads, social media as well as supermarket signage. Initial post-campaign survey results showed the campaign led to a 50 percent reduction in baby wipes found in the wastewater systems with additional studies on the environmental impact continuing.
Dave Rousse, INDA President, said, “Being selected as the recipient of the 2014 EPA Environmental Merit Award is an honor and great recognition of this collaborative campaign and INDA’s efforts over the past decade to reduce the amount of non-flushable material in the wastewater stream.”
In presenting the award, Patricia Aho, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Commissioner for the State of Maine, said the campaign represented a first of its kind collaboration in North America by three entities to address this environmental consumer, municipal and industry issue.
“Treatment operators have told the Maine DEP that with the sales of wipes and new products growing exponentially, consumers can be confused by which ones can be flushed or not, leading to clogs,” said Commissioner Aho. “Our wastewater treatment operators who are truly on the front lines of environmental protection are facing more and more of these challenges every day. INDA is playing an important role in a creative and innovative solution to a national problem.”
The wipes category represents a $6 billion dollar industry that is growing 4-5 percent annually. The development of new flushable wipes is contributing almost 10 percent of the industry growth. INDA has been leading the nonwoven industry’s efforts to build awareness for the proper disposal of nonwoven materials designed to be flushed and those that are not.
According to a recent study by INDA and Maine wastewater entities, materials found on pump station inlet screens consisted of non-flushable paper, like hand towels or napkins (46 percent); non-flushable baby wipes (18 percent); non-flushable feminine hygiene products (13 percent); non-flushable household wipes (14 percent) and wipes labeled as flushable (8 percent).
INDA, with its industry association partner in Europe, EDANA, jointly introduced the Third Edition Guidance Document for Assessing the Flushability of Nonwoven Disposal Production in June, 2013. The associations not only strongly urge that products pass these guidelines before being labeled as flushable, they also developed a voluntary Code of Practice that urges a “Do Not Flush” logo to use on product packaging of wipes that are not designed to be flushed.
INDA was among 26 recipients honored for contributing to improving New England’s environment with the annual merit awards that have been given out since 1970.