Are wet wipes facing a UK ban?

14th of May 2018
Are wet wipes facing a UK ban?

Wet wipes could be outlawed in the UK as the government addresses the issue of plastic waste.

Single-use wet wipes, commonly used by consumers for cleaning sticky fingers and removing eye make-up, are said to be behind 93 per cent of blockages in the country's sewers. The government claims its plan to eliminate plastic waste "includes single-use products like wet wipes".

The UK's Department of the Environment (Defra) is working with industry to support the development of alternatives such as wet wipes that contain no plastic.

"We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers to make sure labelling on packaging is clear and that people know how to dispose of wet wipes properly," said a Defra spokesperson.

Global sales of wet wipes are currently forecast to reach $20 billion by 2021. The industry has flourished over the last decade with products now available for use as baby wipes; for removing make-up and for applying insect repellent, deodorant or sunscreen. Most are made of polyester and other non-biodegradable materials.

According to Water UK, wet wipes are behind 93 per cent of the country's sewage blockages while the remaining seven per cent of issues are caused by items such as feminine hygiene products, cotton pads and plastic wrappers. Toilet paper accounts for just 0.01 per cent of the material blocking the nation's pipes and sewers.

Environmental charities including Greenpeace and the Marine Conservation Society say they are not surprised by the high percentage of wet wipes in the system since these are often marketed as "flushable".



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