South Australian based manufacturer Hygiene Co is leading the initiative, producing wet wipes that meet national water utility standards. More than 25,000 tonnes of plastic landfill each year are produced just from wet wipes in Australia, exceeding drinking straws, which produced 800 tonnes a year before they were banned.
Wet wipes should be avoided where possible as they are single use products that can contaminate sewer systems when flushed. Used wet wipes should always be placed in the general waste bin rather than the recycling bin.
However, given the large number of people who continue to use and then dispose of wet wipes by flushing them, these alternatives could produce environmental benefit and reduce waste to landfill. Instead of imported wipes made from plastics such as polyester or polypropylene that break apart and produce microplastics when flushed, these provide a “certified to flush” option, reducing negative impact on the environment.
The initiative is led by two Adelaide-based fathers, Phil Scardigno and Corey White, whose mission is to introduce sustainable alternatives for wet wipes by working together with local and global retailers.
“Why make a single-use wipe out of a fossil fuel when it can be made out of certified sustainable wood pulp so it breaks down in real-time” Mr White told Australian Associated Press.
"You can put them side by side and generally people wouldn't be able to tell the difference,” he added.
Research through this initiative also revealed that wet wipes leave microplastic residue on most surfaces, leading to potential health concerns as it gets into raw meat or foods.
"Barbecue wipes have also become big, where people are cleaning down to be hygienic but then you're heating up microplastics on a barbecue, which gets into the meat."
Replacing wet wipes with plastic-free options would resonate with wider efforts to reduce single use plastics and keep trillions of microbeads out of water systems.
"You can come top down with regulations, but you can also come bottom up with consumers demanding them," Managing Director of Australia's Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre Jens Goennemann said.
"It's important that consumers drive the change, and I think that's the most powerful voice."
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