Wet wipes, commonly used for various daily tasks, create a significant environmental issue: not only do they contain plastic, they pose substantial harm to sewage systems and rivers when improperly disposed of. With an alarming 11 billion wet wipes used annually in the UK, their negative impact on our environment cannot be ignored.
You have a chance to advocate for change as a public consultation on a proposed ban has recently opened. Continue reading to explore the problems associated with plastic-containing wet wipes and discover how you can contribute to the public consultation.
While highly convenient, ordinary wet wipes contain high levels of plastic and are non-biodegradable. These materials, when flushed down toilets, lead to blockages in sewage systems, contributing to the formation of "fatbergs." During high rainfall these obstacles force untreated sewage, including yet more wet wipes, into rivers and seas. The misinformation that many wet wipes are "flushable" exacerbates the issue. Flushed wet wipes cause 75% of drain blockages and constitute a high percentage of the wipes found in rivers.
Wet wipes break down into microplastics, endangering aquatic life by causing physical harm and potential starvation of aquatic life. Chemicals within the wipes add to river pollution, while accumulated wet wipe ‘islands’ can even alter river shapes, affecting habitats and water quality.
The Trust is joining many other environmental groups in responding in favour of a ban on plastic wet wipes. We support calling for:
• A ban on plastic in wet wipes.
• Clear labelling that tells consumers not to flush wipes of any kind.
• Industry action to produce non-plastic, biodegradable alternative wipes.
• Consideration of a healthcare exemption to ensure practitioners and patients are not disproportionately affected.
Your voice matters. You can submit a response to the consultation on the consultation webpage
. In your answers, you may want to:
• Emphasise your stance on plastic-based wet wipes.
• Share any experiences you've had with their environmental impact.
• Highlight the significance of preserving healthy river ecosystems.
Here are some useful resources if you’re keen to learn more about the wet wipes issue:
Let’s collectively urge the Government to take action against plastic wet wipes for the betterment of our environment.