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ISO News: The flushables project has been clogged by manufacturer’s actions.

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ISO TC 224 has been challenged by ISO TC 6/SC 2 (pulp and paper products) as working outside the scope of TC 224 and of trespassing on the exclusive authority of TC 6/SC 2 to write test methods for tissue papers. Unfortunately, the first challenge is technically valid (although TC 224 has been in the process of re-writing its Scope since 2015, and will do so shortly).  However, the second challenge represents a deliberate misunderstanding of what the flushables Working Group is all about: it is establishing the quality and characteristics of products that may be labelled by their manufacturers as being flushable, or which by the location of their use and the nature of post-use contamination with fecal materials or body fluids are likely to be flushed. While tissue (toilet) paper falls within this scope and intent, the majority of products that are flushed are multi-material products including papers, cardboards, latex, plastics and regenerated cellulose like rayon and lyocell. The intent was and remains to draw the line between flushable and non-flushable products and seek the cooperation of the manufacturers to label accordingly. Instead of cooperation, the manufacturers have sought to delay or block the work, in order to continue marketing a wide range of public hygiene products worth an estimated $3 billion annually. A massive misinformation program has been launched by the manufacturers' trade association.

Like any clog in a sewer system, it can be removed, and TC 224 is in the process of doing so. Work is therefore temporarily on hold and will resume in 2017.

In the meantime, benefits of the work have been achieved: 

  1. There is now a strong international consortium of wastewater services around the world, that never would have been achieved without the flushables product: see which now comprises 21 countries and over 285 organizations. More are wanted so CWWA members are encouraged to contact Clare Pillinger at and send in your municipal logo (300 dpi jpeg); 
  2. The consortium has now reached agreement on the qualities and characteristics that would be accepted globally as being suitable for flushed products, and will be publishing that as a standard in early 2017, and then presenting it back to the ISO WG as a wastewater services position; and
  3. particularly in the UK, excellent cooperation has been established by Water UK with the retail industry with the result that retailers are now accepting the need to revise their products: see:

Other ISO Activities with Canadian Involvement

These include:

TC 224 Water Services: is active with Water Services’ Asset Management (WG 6), Crisis Management and Event Detection standards (WG 7 and 9), Stormwater Management (WG 11), Water Efficiency Management (WG 12) and Water Loss Management (WG 13).

TC 275 Residuals and Biosolids: has 7 WGs addressing various aspects of managing wastewater residuals including notably Energy Processes, Land Application, Dewatering and thickening and Resource/Nutrient Recovery.

TC 282 Water Reuse: has 4 subcommittees working: use of treated wastewater for irrigation; water re-use in urban areas, risk and performance evaluation of water reuse systems, and industrial reuse.

PC 305 Sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems: funded by the Gates Foundation is looking to develop a standard for new technologies.

Anyone interested in participating in these standardization works can contact either Duncan Ellison at or Roland Richard at who will respond to your interest.


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