The only facial tissues I normally buy are Woolworths ‘Essentials’ in packs of 224, or sometimes the similar ‘fragrance-free’ own-brand product from Coles. Both sell for $1 so are excellent value for money compared to name-brands.
Until recently, the Woolies’ product came only in a brown-and-white vine-patterned box which bore no disposal instructions. But now the ‘Essentials’ tissues also come in boxes decorated in ‘limited-edition’ artwork from a design competition. These do have disposal instructions, albeit in easily-overlooked small print: “DO NOT FLUSH. Dispose of in household waste”.
A simple test reveals that the tissues from the brown boxes disintegrate easily in water, like toilet paper, while those from the newly-appeared artwork boxes have wet-strength and remain intact when soaked. Thus no guilt should attach to flushing the former, but to do so with the latter would add to the sewage-treatment plant screen-blockage problem caused by the flushing of wet-strength paper towels and wipes. The Coles tissues also have wet-strength but, unlike the competing product from Woolworths, the boxes bear no disposal instructions.
This raises several issues. Firstly, I can see no good reason why, for most purposes for which they might be used, facial tissues need to have wet strength, thus limiting their disposal options. Secondly, all packs of facial tissues ought to carry appropriate disposal instructions, especially if they are non-flushable. Finally, does wet-strength affect the biodegradability of tissues (or other paper products) and so make composting unsuitable as an alternative means of disposal?