Wet wipe clean up

Materials World magazine
11 May 2018

UK government plans to ban wet wipes. 

Over 90% of blocked sewers are caused by wet wipes, claims Water UK, the country’s water provider association. They are being flushed down the toilet by consumers who dispose of them in that way instead of putting them in the bin. However, as they contain plastic, they don’t break down in the sewer system. Recent proof of this was delivered in form of a giant, 130 tonnes fatberg that had to be taken out of the sewer system in September 2017. It mainly contained wet wipes. 

The UK government is therefore planning on banning them to make manufacturers produce ones that don’t contain plastic. 

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: 'As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes. We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure labelling on packaging is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly – and we support the industry’s efforts to make their customers aware of this important issue.’ 

Thames 21, an NGO that cleans up the River Thames in London stated, 'Wet wipes are the most common item we find on the Thames foreshore, even more common than plastic bottles and cotton buds according to our data. In April, we counted over 5,000 of them in just a small stretch half the size of a tennis court.'

Click here for Thames Water’s 'Bin it, don’t block it' campaign, including videos that explain what happens when you flush a wet wipe and other products down the loo.