The Nation’s Flushing Behaviour


Clean Coasts commissioned a survey of the nation’s flushing behaviour. We wanted to find out:

  • Who disposes of waste in this manner?
  • What sewage related litter items do they dispose of?
  • Why do people flush these items down the toilet?
  • What can be done to encourage a change in behaviour?

We wanted to understand the nation’s flushing behaviour and to do this we use the following metrics:

  • Incidence levels within the Irish population of sewage related littering;
  • Reasons for littering in this way;
  • Awareness of the implications of disposing of litter in this manner;
  • Attitudes towards sewage-related littering

Who was surveyed?

1,033 adults aged 18+ were surveyed. Quotas were set and final data weighted to known national profiles of adults aged 18+ on age, gender, class and region to ensure that the sample is representative of the total Irish population.

What did we find out?

  • 3 in 10 Irish adults have flushed items down the toilet. This figure is higher among those under 35.
  • Lack of knowledge is the primary reason for sewage-related littering among those who do so. The destructive nature of such behaviour is not common knowledge.
    • 1 in 4 believe these items are chemically broken down
    • 1 in 2 think they just disintegrate following flushing.
  • Females are more inclined to flush baby products and female hygiene products down the toilet.
  • Males are more likely to flush cotton buds, cigarette butts, plasters and condoms.
  • When it comes to encouraging people not to engage in sewage-related littering, 1 in 4 of the total sample suggest demonstrating the consequences of such behaviour is the way to go, with 1 in 3 who have done so endorsing this option.