Credit: Adam Radosavljevic
Advertising Standards Authority judges Andrex’s claim its wipes are flushable – despite not winning accreditation under Water UK’s standard – are ‘misleading’
Kimberly-Clark, owner of the Andrex brand, has been reprimanded by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claiming its wipes were “flushable” despite not securing Water UK’s ‘Fine to Flush’ label.
The ASA announced today it has banned the advert in its current form from Andrex’s website, ruling it was “misleading” of Andrex to claim its wipes were flushable without telling shoppers that they had not received a stamp of approval from the UK water industry trade body.
Andrex’s Washlets conform to INDA and EDANA guidelines set by industry bodies representing wet wipe manufacturers.
But they have not been given the ‘Fine to Flush’ label developed by Water UK and Defra to accredit wipes that are ‘truly flushable’ and can enter the sewage system without causing any blockages or harm to the environment.
“We considered that in order to make an informed decision, it was material for consumers to know that another accreditation existed in relation to a product’s ‘flushability’, which Andrex Washlets had not been given,” the ASA said.
It concluded the advert breached CAP Code 3.1 and 3.3, which cover misleading advertising.
The advert showed an image of a hand throwing a wipe into an open toilet above the text “look for this label”, which the ASA said would give shoppers the impression that there was one standard that defines flushability.
The ASA stressed its ruling made no judgement on the flushability of Andrex’s wipes.
There is no single marker of flushability for wet wipes, which are often made of plastic and have been blamed for clogging up sewers and reshaping river banks across the UK.
“We would like to reassure customers that Andrex Washlets are flushable, biodegradable and 100 per cent plastic-free, do not block toilets and are safe for the sewer systems,” Kimberly-Clark said in response to the ruling.
It added that it is now testing its Andrex Washlets against the ‘Fine to Flush’ standard and has updated the advert to align with the ASA’s ruling.
In response to the ASA decision, Water UK’s director of corporate affairs Rae Stewart said Water UK’s standard should act as a benchmark for consumers.
“Water UK is very clear – wipes manufacturers should not label or sell products advertised as ‘flushable’ if they don’t pass the official ‘Fine to Flush’ standard,” she said. “Our research shows that wipes can be a major contributor to sewer blockages, and customers have been left confused by wipes labelled ‘flushable’. If a wipe doesn’t have the official ‘Fine to Flush’ label we do not regard it as flushable, and it should go in the bin not the toilet.”
The news comes in the same week as the release of a new viral advert from not for profit City to Sea, which features a cartoon ‘asshole’ voiced by actor Andy Serkis that reminds people not to flush wet wipes down the toilet.