Are you happy, wet wipe users? Your "dank clusters," as the New York Times calls them, are threatening to destroy the infrastructure your city depends on.
The NYT blows the story wide open this morning with an investigation of NYC's sewer treatment plants that are "under siege", having spent $18 million in five years on "wipe-related equipment problems." As wet wipes have grown in popularity amongst non-babies, they've put a huge strain on the systems designed to filter the city's wastewater.
Employees must rake through all those wet wipes in order to clear them from the clogged system. "Often, the wipes combine with other materials, like congealed grease, to create a sort of superknot," says the NYT.
Cloth destined to be made into Baby Wipes at the Nice-Pak factory, which makes 80 percent of the world's disinfecting wipes. AP
And it's not just NYC. Cities all over the country are struggling. In London, a giant 15 ton ball of wipes and grease that clogged the sewers was named "the fatberg." The problems have sent shock waves through local government, consumer product regulatory bodies, and the corporations who claim their wipes are flushable—the very tests that certify the wipes as such are being questioned.
Now, I know what you're thinking: This problem must be caused by the idiots who buy "non-flushable" wipes and lazily flush them anyway. Wrong! Here is a hard truth: No wipes are flushable, no matter what the box says. Officials at the city and federal levels are begging you: Please throw your wipes in the trash. Or, you know, harden up and don't use them at all. [New York Times]
Lead image: Sergiy Kuzmin
Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.