Family of Toilet Rolls Educate About Wastewater System Troublemakers

May 18, 2017

Featured, Multimedia

Queensland Urban Utilities video series asks viewers to only flush the “three Ps”

Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU; Brisbane, Australia) has released a video series where the Rolls family – animated toilet-paper rolls – teach what should and what should not be flushed down toilets. Photo courtesy of QUU.

Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU; Brisbane, Australia) has released a video series where the Rolls family – animated toilet-paper rolls – teach what should and what should not be flushed down toilets. Photo courtesy of QUU.

Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU; Brisbane, Australia) doesn’t shy away from trying new ideas to make a difference when it comes to water. In October, QUU introduced their customers to the Rolls family. The animated toilet-paper rolls are featured in six episodes on YouTube as well as in photos and videos on Facebook to help teach about what should and what should not be flushed.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people just aren’t aware of the damage wet wipes, hygiene products, and other ‘unflushables’ can do to not only our sewerage network but to their household plumbing too,” said Michelle Cull, QUU spokesperson. “We’ve found the key to changing behavior is making sure the message is simple and has a clear call to action.”

Through humorous dialogue, the Rolls family — father, Lou; mother, Penelopee; sister, Tinkle; brother, Donny; baby, Lulu; and dog, Sausage Roll — identify items that can cause trouble in wastewater treatment systems. The videos show family members reminding each other to dispose of such daily household wastes as wipes, cotton swabs, and cotton balls, in the “bin.” And each episode ends with a reminder to “only flush the three Ps — pee, poo, and paper.”

Flushing the wrong items down toilets can block household pipes, requiring homeowners to pay for expensive repairs. “They also cause problems in our network. We spend around $1.5 million clearing blockages from sewer pipes every year and another $400,000 removing rubbish from treatment plants,” said Cull in a news release.

Tinkle Roll tours the QUU Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant to see all the items that can clog pipes. In the video series, this character joins her family in asking viewers to only flush the “three Ps – pee, poo, and paper.” Photo courtesy of QUU.

Tinkle Roll tours the QUU Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant to see all the items that can clog pipes. In the video series, this character joins her family in asking viewers to only flush the “three Ps – pee, poo, and paper.” Photo courtesy of QUU.

“Our message is simple: only flush the 3 Ps — pee, poo and paper. We spread the ‘Don’t Flush’ word mainly through our low-cost digital channels,” Cull said.

QUU has joined other utilities to sign a position statement calling for all wipes to clearly be marked as “Do Not Flush” until there’s an agreed-upon standard for the product.

“The results have been encouraging. In a customer research survey from March 2017, four in five respondents who had seen our ‘Don’t Flush That’ material said they had stopped flushing wet wipes labelled ‘flushable’ down the toilet,” Cull said. The videos have been watched more than 150,000 times and shared by more than 3000 users.

The idea for these videos came from staff in the marketing and communications team as part of its innovation program. In 2013, QUU launched this program to support staff in coming up with and implementing these new ideas. “It’s our people who are driving this by coming up with the ideas, following them through to delivery, and inspiring others to be creative and inventive,” said Colin Chapman, manager of the QUU Innovation, Research, and Development program.

Read more about this program in the Water Environment & Technology article, “Innovation starts with staff: Queensland Urban Utilities changes its culture to become a utility of the future.”


Video courtesy of QUU.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

WEF Highlights Showcases Flushables Outreach Efforts

As the nondispersibles issue continues to grow, utilities are turning to humor to educate the public. In the footsteps of the Singing Sewermen from Thames Water (London), utilities are creating unique and humorous public service announcements (PSAs) and campaigns to educate the public about what can and cannot go down the drain or toilet.

Use keyword FlushablePSA to find all WEF Highlights articles on these efforts. Do you have a unique flushable PSA to share? Send it to Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights editor, at jfulcher@wef.org.

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