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Biodegradable & Compostable Wipes: It's Vital to Know the Difference

From toilets that won’t flush, to municipal ‘fatbergs’, there are many reasons why putting conventional wet wipes into the sewerage system is a bad idea.

In hospitals and care homes, communicating the correct way to dispose of personal care items such as wipes can be challenging – not least because the packaging itself can be ambiguous.

However difficult it may be to explain correct disposal methods, doing so is vital.

A conventional, non-flushable wipe (which could be used in abundance when providing personal care) simply won’t break apart when it is disposed of down the toilet or via your sluice room machinery.

Although this may seem initially positive (nobody wants a wipe to fall apart when in use!), they’re highly likely to cause costly maintenance issues if they’re disposed of in a bedpan washer, pulp macerator or toilet.

When combined with fat, grease and other dirt in the sewerage system, they can help to form an impenetrable mass – causing havoc for plumbing.

Similarly, wipes that are inappropriately disposed of can instantly damage sluice room machinery, such as jamming pulp macerator blades or clogging washer disinfector pipework, and also cause blockages if flushed in your usual toilet system. With these appliances awaiting maintenance, your clinicians can’t safely dispose of waste, which leads to a risk of infection. Furthermore, the cost of repairing machinery that breaks down due to misuse will create a major strain on your budget.

Pulpmatic Uno with wipes

Think a biodegradable wipe is the answer? Think again!

Many assume that biodegradable wipes are eco-friendly, and thus can be flushed or macerated – but this is often a myth. As a result, users can cause accidental damage to plumbing systems, machinery and the environment, despite the fact that they thought they were managing waste responsibly.

When a wipe is described as ‘biodegradable’, this means it will eventually break down into smaller parts.

This will happen by natural processes but could take any length of time.

With this logic, an item could take 100 years to break down to smaller parts – but because it eventually will, it is still classed as ‘biodegradable’. You can appreciate how this is of little use to your toilets and sluice room machinery which are used multiple times a day.

Even when a biodegradable wipe eventually breaks down, it can continue to be harmful.

Just because a wipe breaks down into smaller parts doesn’t mean it automatically becomes kind to the planet.

Many wipes break down into microplastics, which will continue to pollute the environment for many years to come. In fact, it’s estimated that that the average person inhales 74,000 microplastic particles a year and consumes as much as 39,000 to 52,000[1].

Reducing microplastics is truly in everyone’s best interests – and you can start by ensuring the wipes you buy will only disperse into organic matter.

Hygenex Wet and Dry WipesIt’s time to switch to compostable wipes.

Compostable materials have been certified to break down completely into non-toxic components that won’t harm the environment.

The time it takes for a material to break down will depend on its conditions. However, in order for any product to bear the label of ‘compostable’, it has to have been certified to break down in industrial composting facilities within 180 days. 

All too often, the label of ‘biodegradable’ simply isn’t what it seems. In order to truly protect your plumbing and machinery, your wipes must be compostable.

Hygenex wet and dry wipes are different to the majority of conventional wipes.

Hygenex wipes from DDC Dolphin are fully compostable, allowing you to provide high quality personal care while conveniently disposing of waste.

As the wipes completely break down and disperse into 100% organic matter, you can safely put them in bedpan washers, macerators, slop hoppers or toilets – with no risk of blockages or jamming.

Furthermore, Hygenex wipes are:

  • Conforming to all 7 tests for EDANA & INDA standards of flushability
  • Unique in their market leading strength and performance
  • Suitable for use on all areas of the body, including intimate areas
  • Suitable for use on all skin types and ages, from newborn to the elderly
  • Even suitable for wiping down hard surfaces.

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