business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

There have been a number of recent stories in the media - including here on MNB - about the growing popularity of wet wipes, which are being used by some folks instead of toilet paper. "Such wipes," the Cincinnati Business Courier reports, "which have become increasingly popular for people particular about personal hygiene, are often flushed down toilets."

The problem is that these wipes can congeal with grease and don't dissolve, which means that they can jam up the sewer pumps and have to be cleared by hand.

The story says that "wet wipes pose problems for sewers from here to London, according to news reports. Earlier this summer, it took 10 days to dislodge a 15-ton clog of flushed wet wipes and grease from a sewer in London. The size of a double-decker bus, the so-called fatberg clog had reduced the flow in a sewer tunnel by 95 percent. It was discovered after people complained their toilets had stopped flushing.

"Advisory labels about which kinds of wipes are flushable and which aren’t appear on the packaging of brands distributed by Procter & Gamble Co. and the Kroger Co., both of which are headquartered in Cincinnati." And both companies seem confident that their customers are smart enough to know which ones can be flushed and which ones cannot.

But to be honest, it's that word "cannot" that creates a problem for me. Because while the notion of wet wipes as offering a more thoroughly cleansing experience (I'm trying to be delicate here) might be appealing, they certainly lose some of their appeal if they cannot be flushed down the toilet. If this gets around, it could do some damage to a burgeoning category.

At least IMHO...
KC's View: