By Stacy Belanger and Troy Heimerl, JWC Environmental

You’ve seen the news reports and posts on social media, maybe even experienced it firsthand, about an increase in sewer clogs since the toilet paper shortage caused by COVID-19 concerns. The assumption is people are using alternative materials to toilet paper such as baby wipes, wet wipes, paper towels, and even shredded clothing. Unfortunately, these materials do not disintegrate in the sewer system like toilet paper. As a result, they collect on sewer pumps causing them to clog and mix with fats, oils, grease, and other sewage in the pipes to form so-called fatbergs. While people should only flush the three P’s—pee, poop, and (toilet) paper—the reality is all sorts of material—wipes, cotton swabs, hair, the occasional children’s toy—are flushed down the toilet. 

Although these materials may not cause immediate consequences at the toilet, they can have serious ramifications in the sewer system. These materials clog sewer pumps and pipes, leading to very unpleasant sewage overflows.


Without a change in human behavior, what can be done to prevent these sewage clogs? One solution is to install a dual-shafted sewage grinder, such as JWC Environmental’s Muffin Monster®, in the sewer line. Dual-shafted sewage grinders have two rows of sharp cutters that rotate slowly and with high torque. The two shafts of the shredder rotate at different speeds. The two intermeshing cutters act like a pair of extremely powerful scissors, effectively cutting up any solids into smaller pieces that can then typically flow smoothly through the sewer line without clogging equipment. 


Unfortunately, sometimes shredding these solid materials is not enough. If the material is shredded into long strips, they may reweave with hair and FOG (fats, oils, and grease) later in the sewer line, causing clogs at that time. JWC developed its Wipes Ready® technologies for the Muffin Monster specifically to shred material in a confetti-cut, effectively preventing material from reweaving downstream when mixed with FOG and hair. 

When wipes, diapers, rags, and other flushed solids cause pump problems, a Muffin Monster with Wipes Ready can cut these materials down to a size that will not re-solidify. Pumps remain clean and operational. There is no unplanned maintenance and sewage overflows are avoided when pumps do not clog, saving time and money.


The shortage of toilet paper is leading people to use alternative materials that should not be flushed down the toilet. The best practice to keep our sewage systems functioning properly is to flush only the three P’s. But if you are experiencing an increased frequency of pump clogs, a Muffin Monster with Wipes Ready technology from JWC installed before the pumps may be the next best solution. We encourage everyone to follow best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic—practice good hygiene, maintain social distancing, stay home if you feel unwell, and seek appropriate medical help. And make our wastewater treatment crews’ jobs easier by flushing only the three P’s, so they do not need to unclog pumps and clean out fatbergs that are preventable with appropriate flushing practices.

For more on this topic, view the JWC Environmental webinar “No TP. Now What?” here.


JWC Environmental, a Sulzer brand, is a world leader in solids reduction and removal for the wastewater industry with its Muffin Monster grinders and Monster screening, compaction and washing systems. JWC also solves challenging size reduction and processing problems in commercial and industrial applications with its Monster Industrial products. JWC Environmental is headquartered in Santa Ana, California, and has a global network of representatives, distributors and regional service centers to provide customer support. For more information, visit

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