Flushable wipes and other not-so-flushable products are causing problems for waste treatment plants.

"Toilets are not garbage cans," said Barry Orr, from the municipal enforcement sewer use group. "This material should be going into the garbage can."

Flushable wipes

Barry Orr, from the municipal enforcement sewer use group, is trying to educate people on why they shouldn't dispose of so-called flushable wipes in their toilets. (CBC News)

He gave CBC News reporter Lorenda Reddekopp a tour of a Durham Region waste treatment plant, showing her the bacon grease, paper towels, so-called flushable wipes and other products that people have been getting rid of through their toilets. The plant ships a bin of non-disposable materials to a dump daily.

People can easily dispose of these items using a garbage can, he explained. 

"It makes a big difference on our waste water system, on our tax dollars and on our environment too."

Flushable wipes

Holly Tetzlaff, 14, compared the breakdown of toilet paper to disposable wipes for her science fair project. (CBC News)

The wipes and other materials are causing sewer back-ups in residential basements and ruining city equipment, said John Presta of the region's works department. Damaged pumps have to be replaced or repaired, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Holly Tetzlaff, 14, compared the breakdown of toilet paper to so-called flushable wipes for a science project. She took her study all the way to the national science fair.

"There is no standard definition for what is flushable," she said. "There's no standardized testing that the flushable wipes actually have to go through."

With files from CBC's Lorenda Reddekopp