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This is what happens when you throw wipes down the toilet – Dubliners urged to ‘Think Before You Flush’


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This stomach-turning image of a blocked pipe at a wastewater pump station shows the damage caused by throwing items such as wipes down the toilet.

The image has been released as part of a new campaign to encourage Dubliners to think before they flush.

The joint initiative by Clean Coasts and Irish Water is aiming to highlight the damage that can be caused to Dublin’s coastal environment when unsuitable items are flushed down the toilet.

Dublin residents and visitors to the capital are urged to keep beaches and waterways clean by only flushing the three Ps – pee, poo and paper – down the toilet.

The key message of the ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign is that other waste, such as cotton bud sticks, wipes and sanitary items, should be placed in a bin.

Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in pipes and sewage systems, the synthetic materials in items like wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products make them strong and difficult to break down.

When flushed down the toilet, they can cause blockages in the wastewater network, pumping stations and treatment plants.

According to Irish Water, these blockages can result in wastewater overflows and end up on beaches and in the sea, causing damage to the marine environment.

Donal Heaney of Irish Water explained the scale of the problem associated with flushing the wrong things down the toilet.

“In Dublin, items such as wipes, sanitary products, hair and dental floss are flushed down the toilet every day instead of simply putting them in the bin,” he said.

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“Every month, we remove 60 tonnes of wipes and other inappropriately flushed items from our inlet screens at the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant.”

Apart from the risks to the environment, sewage-related litter adds to the volume of solid matter. This has to be carefully removed by Irish Water and sent to landfill, which is an expensive process.

As part of the campaign, a video has been produced featuring contributions from some recognisable faces: former Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu; social media influencer and television presenter James Kavanagh; and well-known Clean Coasts volunteer Margaret Brown, from Sandycove.

James Kavanagh said people in Dublin are lucky to have “magnificent” beaches and waterways right on their doorstep.

“We need to make sure we protect our local environment and Dublin's coast,” he said.

Councillor Chu added: “While we love to reap the benefits of Dublin’s coastline, we also need to protect it. As residents of Dublin, what we do in our homes can have an impact on our local environment.”