Procter & Gamble has agreed to meet water companies this week to evaluate the impact of its Charmin toilet roll brand – advertised as “staying strong even when wet”- on UK sewerage systems.
Water companies and toilet tissue manufacturers are concerned that Charmin’s high “wet strength” could make it more likely to block pipes and filters because it dissolves much more slowly than its rivals.
They are seeking proof from P&G that Charmin will not affect UK sewerage systems. There is currently no industry standard for the dissolvability and dispersal of toilet tissue.
Jim Bradley, chairman of industry body the Association of Makers of Soft Tissue Products (AMSTP) and manager of manufacturer SCA Hygiene, says the meeting has been set up to create the first ever industry standard.
This will be applied to all toilet tissues on the market and the manufacturers of any products that fail will be forced to modify them, says Bradley.
Research conducted for Kimberly-Clark by Dr Robin Wakelin at Brunel University gives Charmin an “outright fail” because it does not disperse sufficiently quickly after flushing.
Meanwhile, research for P&G, also by Dr Wakelin, concludes Charmin indicated “no flushability or transportation problems”.
Both sets of tests were conducted to ASPM standards, but it is up to the client to determine the breadth of the study and whether or not to include research into dispersal.
Dr Wakelin says: “If a product fails the test, I would definitely advise further investigation.”
Jeff Blom, research and development director for tissues and towels at Kimberly-Clark in Europe, who has seen both sets of research, says: “The P&G tests don’t evaluate Charmin’s ability to break up and disperse, which is the primary concern here.”
A spokesman for P&G admits this is the case, but claims that the company has additional research which shows dispersal of the product is not a problem. It is not clear who conducted the additional research and whether or not it is in accordance with industry standards.