What happens if you flush plastic down the toilet? | EDS

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Can you flush plastic down the toilet? 

You may think that flushing just a small plastic wrapper will be harmless, but that isn’t true. These small bits can accumulate to create a much bigger problem, and as such, you shouldn’t flush any amount of plastic down the toilet. Doing so can not only cause your household drainage woes, but can also damage the natural environment.

The effects of flushing plastic down the toilet

So, why shouldn’t you flush plastic down the toilet? Let’s explore the two primary reasons.

  • Plastics are non-biodegradable which means they do not break down. Upon entering a drainage system, plastics can accumulate along with other non-biodegradable materials and substances, bound together by fats and grease. This can lead to blockages forming in your home drainage system, and in some cases, can create large fatbergs which can cause issues on a bigger scale and can affect multiple properties. It can also cause damage to the physical structure of drains, and may lead to drain and sewer flooding.
  • The non-biodegradable property of plastics means it causes serious problems when it reaches our natural water systems, such as rivers and oceans. This results in plastic pollution of these vital water bodies, which can choke and entangle aquatic wildlife, and also release harmful chemicals that adversely affect the physiology of these creatures. This may then find its way up the food chain, and be ingested by larger animals, including humans.
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How should you dispose of plastic instead? 

Plastics come in all shapes and sizes. Check to see if that particular piece of plastic can be recycled first, then give it a rinse before placing it in recycling. If the plastic contained any medicine or chemicals, avoid pouring these down the drain, as these also can cause problems.

If plastic cannot be recycled, it should go into your general waste bin and not down the toilet. This applies to small amounts of plastic as well as large, such as wrappers from sanitary products – even the smallest portion of plastic can do harm.

Also, the rise of zero-waste solutions and shops means that you can reduce the amount of plastic your household uses in the first place, getting to the very root of the problem. The less plastic you use, the less you will need to throw away.

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