Are wet wipes biodegradable? Wet wipes are commonly used, but their disposal can cause serious environmental problems. This article will explore the facts about wet wipes, their biodegradability and ecological impact.
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Before learning “Are wet wipes biodegradable?” let’s find out “What is biodegradable?” Biodegradable refers to substances or products that are broken down by living organisms like bacteria and fungi into harmless substances. This means the material can be returned to the environment without causing harm. Sometimes biodegradation can take years, and sometimes it can take centuries.
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Various types of wipes are available, some of which are biodegradable. Additionally, its packaging is also recyclable. Let’s dig into each one and discover the differences between them.
Biodegradable wipes will break down with the assistance of bacteria and other organisms. However, some wipes break down faster than others.
Composting is a process that involves breaking down natural materials into nutrient-rich soil. Compostable wipes are only biodegradable under specific conditions that are created intentionally. These conditions include providing the material with the necessary water, light, oxygen, and organic matter to break down properly. If these optimal conditions cannot be met, the wipes are biodegradable rather than compostable.
Wipes are typically not recyclable for two main reasons. Firstly, many wipes are constructed using synthetic fibers that cannot be repurposed. Secondly, once biological substances come into contact with the wipes, they can no longer be recycled.
Although some wipes may be packaged in materials that can be recycled, this is relatively rare. In cases where recyclable plastic is used for packaging, it’s essential to separate the different types of plastic to ensure proper recycling.
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As a private label wipes manufacturer, we want to say that 90% of wipes contain synthetic fibers that do not break down. And those synthetic fibers are usually in the plastic family. For example, polypropylene, polyester, and polyethylene. It also has different ingredients depending on the wipe you use. For example, what’s inside a baby wipe differs from what’s inside a disinfecting wipe.
What are wipes biodegradable made of? Opposite, wet wipes that are biodegradable are made entirely from natural ingredients. This guarantees they will break down into the soil when adequately disposed of. Common materials used in biodegradable wipes are bamboo, cotton, wood pulp, and viscose rayon.
Whether toilet wet wipes are biodegradable or not, flushing them down the toilet often leads to clogging. Over time, wipes accumulate and form more extensive blockages because they don’t easily travel through the sewer line. Even if they make it to the sewer, they can cause significant pipe blockages.
Not to mention, flushable wet wipes can cause wastewater equipment damage. Wipes catch on impellers, and this leads to pump breakdowns. This is why many wastewater treatment plant operators ask residents not to flush wipes, even if they’re labeled as flushable or biodegradable.
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In general, wet wipes should be disposed of in the trash can or waste bin – not down the drain. This includes biodegradable wipes, compostable wipes, cotton face cloth wipes, etc. If you use a “flushable wipe,” ensure it meets the dispersibility standards set forth by the IWSFG.
Try keeping a separate waste bin in the bathroom to collect used wet wipes. This keeps your recyclable waste different from your non-recyclable. And it prevents severe pipe blockages and sewer blockages down the line.
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Flushable wipes FAQ
Q1: Are flushable toilet wipes biodegradable?
Not all flushable wipes are biodegradable. Therefore, it’s essential to check the label to verify whether wet wipes are biodegradable. However, regardless of their biodegradability, it’s best not to flush them. Instead, it’s recommended to dispose of them in a designated waste bin.
Q2: Are biodegradable baby wipes flushable?
Even if containers say wipes are flushable, it’s better to dispose of them in a separate waste bin instead. This prevents plumbing issues, sewer blockages, and other water waste issues.
Q3: Do biodegradable wipes decompose in landfills?
Biodegradable wipes can decompose in landfills. But sometimes, breaking down takes a long time because the landfill conditions aren’t ideal.
Are wet wipes biodegradable? Some wet wipes, made of wood and cotton, are biodegradable. If wet wipes contain plastic, they will take hundreds of years to become biodegradable and harm the environment. So, the next time you consider using wet wipes, make an informed decision that benefits you and the environment.
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