24 April 2024

UK-wide ban on plastic wet wipes to become law

This follows 'overwhelming support' in the public consultation.

© Towfiqu barbhuiya/unsplash

The legislation will be introduced this year to help tackle plastic pollution and clean up waterways.  

Wet wipes containing plastic break down into microplastics over time. An average of 20 wet wipes were found per 100m of beach surveyed across the UK.

Responses to the public consultation show overwhelming support for the proposed ban – which will be introduced via secondary legislation under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 – with 95% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the proposals.

An 18-month transition period will start from when legislation is passed to allow businesses time to prepare. Following consultation with industry, the ban will not include the manufacture of these products, in line with other recent single-use plastic bans.

However, the government will continue to encourage manufacturers to move to a position where all their wet wipes are plastic free.   

The government response also sets out exemptions to ensure that wet wipes containing plastic remain available where there is no viable alternative – such as for medical disinfectant purposes. The government will review the need for these exemptions regularly.

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