This is paid-for content in association with Aqua Wipes.
I remember, when I first became a parent, being utterly dumbfounded that something so little could produce so must waste. It’s of very little coincidence that I started Moral Fibres just over a year after becoming a parent. In fact, one of my very first posts was to extol the benefits of reusable nappies!
We all want to minimise our waste, and with the proliferation of biodegradable and ‘flushable’ baby wipes, many parents are picking these as greener baby-changing options. However, it turns out that these labels are little more than greenwash – with wet wipes flushed down the toilet contributing to river pollution and fatbergs.
Thankfully some baby wipes brands are looking to clean up the industry and turn the tide on this greenwashing, by providing advice on the proper disposable methods for wet wipes and ensuring their wipes are home compostable.
The Disposability Problems Surrounding Baby Wipes
In March 2022, Aqua Wipes – the award-winning plastic-free, biodegradable and compostable baby wipe brand – carried out research into how parents dispose of baby wipes. Their research revealed much confusion around the correct disposal of biodegradable baby wipes – with three-quarters of parents incorrectly flushing them down the toilet.
So what exactly has led to many parents believing that biodegradable wipes can be flushed down the toilet? Water companies Thames Water and Yorkshire Water both blame conflicting labelling for the confusion.
Wet wipes labelled as biodegradable are one of the prime reasons for this confusion.
Biodegradable wipes can break down in certain conditions. However, this biodegradability is interrupted when wipes are flushed and enter the sewage network. In sewage pipes, the wipes cannot decompose. This means they ultimately contribute to ‘fatbergs’ – the repulsive mountains of sewage – and river pollution.
‘Fine to flush’ wipes are another key source of confusion. While the wipe packets claim that their wipes are flushable, according to Yorkshire Water, these ‘fine to flush’ wipes do not break down in the sewer network. Again, instead, they can develop into blockages, such as the massive Wet Wipe Island in the Thames.
The problem is so great that Yorkshire Water has recently called for a mandatory ‘do not flush’ labelling on all wet wipes. This is even on those wipes claiming to be certified as ‘fine to flush’.
So How Should You Dispose Of Wet Wipes?
Aqua Wipes say that there are only two correct ways to dispose of compostable wet wipes, such as Aqua Wipes themselves. This is to either place them directly into your home compost bin or in your general waste bin. You must never flush them down the loo.
Aqua Wipes compostable baby wipes can take as little as 15 days to break down when left exposed in home compost conditions. As Aqua Wipes are plastic-free, they won’t release any microplastics into the environment.
Wipes labelled as biodegradable, and not compostable, should only ever be placed in your general waste bin. These should never be flushed, regardless of what the packet might say.
What About Soiled Wipes?
When it comes to soiled baby wipes, my own personal advice is not to compost soiled wipes. Whilst human poo is technically compostable, you don’t want to spread this on your vegetable beds. Faecal matter can carry pathogens that may or may not be killed in the composting process. I feel it’s not worth the risk. Pop these wipes in your general waste bin – again don’t put them in your toilet.
Cleaning Up The Wet Wipe Industry
Aqua Wipes are on a mission to clean up the baby wipes industry. Founded in 2016, Aqua Wipes’ passion is to protect your baby’s delicate skin and give parents the choice of a more planet-friendly way to wipe. As such, all of their wipes are proudly biodegradable, compostable and plastic-free.
Whilst the wipes themselves are plastic-free, the packaging isn’t plastic-free yet. However, it is recyclable.
Aqua Wipes has three types of compostable and plastic-free wipes available:
- Essentials: providing wipes at everyday prices in a 56-wipe pack size.
- Originals: with added Aloe Vera for newborn skin: available in 64 wipe packs and 12 wipe travel pack sizes.
- Premium 3-in-1: with barrier protection technology to soothe and protect sensitive newborn skin, available in 48 wipe pack sizes.
All Aqua Wipes are dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic to help protect your baby’s skin. What’s more, all wipes are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
The brand also supports the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. A donation is made to the charity with every pack of baby wipes sold.
Where To Buy Aqua Wipes
Looking to make the switch to Aqua Wipes? You can pick up Aqua Wipes in branches of Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy, online at Ocado, or via Aqua Wipes new online store, where you can find the full range of wipes.