Latest educational infographic explains how fatbergs are silently formed under our city streets and what consumers can do to help prevent them

SEATTLE, Wash. (Nov. 19, 2021) – Many Americans are not aware of the havoc fatbergs cause within our nation’s sewers. The first fatberg was discovered in 2013 with approximately two fatbergs being discovered each year since. The Responsible Flushing Alliance (RFA), a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization dedicated to providing consumer education around what not to flush and the “Do Not Flush” symbol provides free materials explaining fatbergs, the threat they pose, and how they can be prevented.

The word “fatberg” is a combination of “fat” and “iceberg” and is used to describe the giant cement-like masses that can form in sewer pipes when cooking grease combines with non-biodegradable products that get stuck in the grease. Much like icebergs, fatbergs are massive in size. One of the largest found in Birmingham, England was over 1,000 feet long and weighed more than 300 tons. That is the equivalent to the length of three football fields.

Not only enormous in size, fatbergs — as well as the smaller sewer clog precursors — cause equally huge problems to waste water treatment infrastructure and to the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 23,000 and 75,000 sewer overflow incidents caused by sewer blockages dump wastewater directly into rivers each year.

What can consumers do?

To try to ensure households do not have to bear the financial cost and potential health issues associated with clogged sewer pipes as a result of fatbergs and sewer clogs, the Responsible Flushing Alliance is urging people to get #flushsmart and not treat the toilet as a trashcan. Studies show that 98 percent of materials that clog equipment at wastewater treatment plants are from items never meant to be flushed.

Look for the “Do Not Flush” symbol on wipes packaging for proper disposal instructions. If the packaging includes the “Don Not Flush” symbol, the item needs to be disposed of in the trash instead and never the toilet.

For more facts on fatbergs, a list of non-flushable items that are commonly found in fatbergs, and how to take action now, check out RFA’s “What’s a Fatberg?” infographic and other resource tools on the website. To keep up with the latest #FlushSmart tips, follow RFA on Facebook and Twitter.

What's a Fatberg

About Responsible Flushing Alliance

RFA is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization dedicated to consumer education focused on what should and should not be flushed. RFA’s goal is to change consumer behavior to help reduce damage to our nation’s sewage systems caused by objects and materials not designed to be flushed. Member companies include: Albaad, ANDRITZ Group – Nonwoven Division, Dude Products, Essity, First Quality, Johnson & Johnson, Glatfelter, Kelheim Fibres GmbH, Spartan Chemicals, Dukal Corporation, Kimberly-Clark, Nehemiah Manufacturing, Nice-Pak, Papel Aralar S.A., Procter & Gamble, Rockline Industries, Sellars Nonwovens, Suominen Corporation, Reckitt