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Would you support a ban on wet wipes?

Simply not flushing wipes may not be enough to avoid an ecological disaster

We have been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of flushing wet wipes down the toilet for a long time, but is just not flushing them good enough? A Labour MP has proposed a new law that would ban all wet wipes that contain plastic on the grounds that a staggering 93% of all blockages in UK sewers are caused by wipes and even if people bin them rather than flush, they still get into the environment where they eventually break down and become microplastics. These tiny particles of plastic can then enter the food chain and water supply.

So, would you be prepared to stop using wipes altogether to protect the environment?

How big is the problem?

It’s huge. As well as the extraordinary statistic that they are responsible for 93% of blockages, 90% of wipes sold in the UK contain plastic, and in 2019, in just a 2 hour period, 23,000 wipes were found on the shore of the River Thames.

If they say they are flushable, why are they not?

You can hardly blame consumers for not understanding the risks of wet wipes when many toilet wipes clearly state that they are flushable. Regardless of what the manufacturers claim, wet wipes are not safe to flush away. That means not safe for the environment and not safe for your drains either so whether you’re looking at the issue in the context of saving the planet or of avoiding costly blocked drains, it’s something we all need to consider.

The reason you shouldn’t flush them is because they are designed to be wet and not break down – that is their whole purpose. No wonder then that once they make their way into the sewer system, they soak up the gunk and dirt down there and amass until they clog huge spaces up.

What can you do to be more environmentally responsible and protect your own drains and sewage pipes?

Legislation takes a long time to pass, and there’s no guarantee that this motion will even be carried forward (though it is being backed by Water UK and the WWF) but there are things you can do in the meantime:

  • NEVER flush any kind of wipes down the toilet, regardless of whether they state that you can
  • Find alternatives such as reusable pads and cleanser for face care, cotton wool and water for babies, or washable cloths and eco-friendly products for household cleaning
  • Look for plastic-free wipes. Only 10% of wipes sold in the UK don’t contain plastic but they are out there.

Could you make a difference?

There is nothing as powerful at influencing the products manufactured by commercial companies as consumer demand. The best way to affect change is to stop buying the harmful products and demand more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Worried about your own drains and toilets?

If you have been unknowingly potentially harming your own sewage system at home, by flushing wipes away believing them to be safe, and find that your drains are backing up, your toilet doesn’t flush away properly, or there’s a lingering smell which doesn’t go away with cleaning then you may need some investigation. We can often do this without having to dismantle or dig up anything in the first instance. Call us on 0345 577 0151 or complete the enquiry form.

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