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May 28, 2015
 
 

ISO TC224 WG10 May 6th and 7th, 2015 Summary of Meeting Discussions and Decisions

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The meeting was hosted by the City of London and included a pre-meeting Workshop of international and national speakers on the subject of Toilets are not Garbage Cans. The program for the workshop and the presentations can be found on the CWWA website at:

http://www.cwwa.ca/ISO_flushables_workshop.asp 


The WG 10 meeting was attended by 20 persons with roles or representation as follows:
 
Member
 Country/ Organization
 Number  Representing
Convenor 1
 Canada 6 Municipal wastewater systems
 USA US TAG 5 1 Municipal wastewater system, 4 Product manufacturers
 USA other 1  Product manufacturer
 Japan 3 1 Product manufacturers’ Association and 2 product manufacturers
 UK 1 1 Water industry research organization
 Turkey 1 1 University researcher
 INDA 1 Product manufacturers’ Association (Liaison D member)
 EDANA 1 Product manufacturers’ Association (Liaison D member)
  20  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As noted, the Canadian group was strongly represented by wastewater professionals. Unfortunately the U.S. delegation was strongly represented by product manufacturers whose focus was to protect their products.  

Overall, the meeting was productive and some degree of consensus was found as the representatives of the wastewater sector and the manufacturers exchanged views and discussed issues; however there remains some significant divergence of views.  

There is promise that the consensus will build over the coming months as further work is undertaken on the side and at Meeting 3, in London, England in October, 2015.  This may be encouraged by the recent U.S. Federal Trade Commission decision that the claim for flushability by at least one manufacturer is deficient and those products should no longer be advertised as being flushable.

As the convenor, Duncan Ellison reviewed the relevant Resolution of the TC 224 meeting in Vienna, April 13 to 17, 2015 which stated:

 

 

WG10 "Flushable products"

 

 

ISO/TC 224 members support the fact that the planned Technical Specification will set out requirements through test protocols to determine recognition of the quality of flushability acceptable to the operators of wastewater collection and treatment systems.

 

 


The Resolution was approved by 12 members and he drew to the attention of the delegates the importance of the resolution: ... to establish performance standards acceptable to the operators of wastewater collection and treatment systems.

The plan is to move through a series of Working Drafts until consensus was reached and the outcome was expected to be forward to the Technical Committee for balloting as a final Technical Specification (TS) sometime in mid-2016.

The delegates were informed that ISO documents (whether a TS or a Standard) are intended to be globally relevant, in which case tests should be directed towards satisfying the "worst case" scenario situation, but it was also fully recognized that individual nations could adopt the ISO document for national application with or without amendments to adjust to specific national conditions.

With an ISO TS, Manufacturers could demonstrate conformity through independent test laboratories with either the original ISO standard or to any national version of the standard, and their products would be so identified as conforming to ISO TS 24524 (or a national variation of ISO TS 24524) through a certification mark.

With this background, the participants opened discussions of the documents that had been circulated. 

It was apparent in many parts of the discussion that there was a difference of vision between those representing the wastewater sector and the product manufacturing sector, and Duncan Ellison had to remind participants of the Vienna Resolution.

The scope of the Technical Specification took a lot of the initial discussion time.  The manufacturers wanted to limit it to products comprising sheets of non-woven materials, whereas the wastewater stakeholders wanted it to extend to ANY product marketed as flushable and to any product likely to be used in the bathroom setting (and therefore likely to be flushed).  Those that pass the test could be marked FLUSHABLE, those that do not should be marked NON-FLUSHABLE. 

Finally there was a majority but not a unanimous decision to make the scope cover both woven and non-woven products declared to be flushable, and to other products likely to be used in a bathroom.

Also discussed was the issue of low and high wet strength products.  

The wastewater participants are focussed on developing a set of tests that would demonstrate that the products would disintegrate rapidly, settle, biodegrade, and would not clog pumps and grills, etc.  These products are essentially similar to toilet paper which is a low wet strength material.  However the current products are largely high wet strength products and the current tests include pump clogging tests.  

The wastewater sector was and remains prepared to allow a slight differentiation in the overall test protocol for low and for high-wet strength products, by not requiring pump tests for products that disintegrate and disperse rapidly. Such products would have a less costly certification process and would thus get a marketing advantage.  Manufacturers opposed this differentiation.


Considerable discussion remains on the issue of [hydraulic] disintegration and the issue of low and wet strength properties, with the wastewater stakeholders favouring recognition of low wet strength characteristics.

The proposal to "fast track" low wet strength materials that disintegrate rapidly and thoroughly through to a "flushable declaration" with the avoidance of some of the later tests needed for high wet strength materials was not achieved, but remains on the table.


The wastewater services participants also stated they would like to see some bench-top tests (i.e., requiring minimum equipment) that would be used by individual local services to signal whether or not a product was flushable, and where the result was not positive, suggest further testing be initiated.

This concept was not supported by the manufacturers and the point will be discussed in future meetings.


Finally it was recognized that an additional section(s) will be needed to address the question of product analysis for the presence of micro-plastics and possibly other constituents presenting actual or potential environmental concerns.  The issue of concerns over micro-plastics in products and their survival of wastewater treatment plants was noted as an emerging concern.

Working Draft 2 will be produced by July 15th for distribution and commenting ready for the next meeting in London England, October 28 to 30th.

Anyone wishing more information or to participate in the ongoing process should contact Duncan Ellison at duncan.ellison@videotron.ca


 

 

 

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