Wet wipes could be BANNED in bid to clean up UK waterways and stop toxic tide of plastic waste

  • Wet wipes may soon be banned under government plans to clear rivers and seas
  • Proposals also include demand for clear labelling on packaging telling people not to flush items down toilet 
  • When flushed, they create fatbergs which clog up sewers and pollute rivers  

Wet wipes blamed for bringing a toxic tide of plastic waste to Britain could soon be banned under government plans to clean up our rivers and seas.

Proposals also include a demand for clear labelling on packaging telling people not to flush the single-use items down the toilet.

When flushed, wet wipes containing plastic create fatbergs that clog up sewers, pollute rivers and create litter that causes devastation to wildlife.

More than 90 per cent of the 11billion wet wipes used in the UK each year contain plastic, according to MPs.

This week, the Government will announce a call for evidence as to whether plastic wet wipes should face an outright ban with manufacturers forced to replace them with sustainable alternatives.

Wet wipes blamed for bringing a toxic tide of plastic waste to Britain could soon be banned under government plans to clean up our rivers and seas (stock image)

The announcement represents another success for the Daily Mail’s Turn the Tide on Plastic campaign, which has led the way on banning single-use items.

Ministers will also ask for views on whether tobacco firms should pay for the cost of cleaning up cigarette butts while a consultation on banning single-use plastic cutlery, plates and cups will be formally announced this week.

Wet wipes are believed to be responsible for 93 per cent of the blockages in sewers, costing bill payers £100million per year to clear. Manufacturers have been criticised by MPs for wrongly labelling their products as flushable. The Marine Conservation Society has called for wet wipes to carry a ‘fine to flush’ label only if manufacturers can prove they fully break down.

A Department for the Environment source said: ‘Daily Mail readers know all too well how much damage single-use plastic has done to the world and now it’s time to tackle the scourge of plastic-based wet wipes.’ The source added that a ban on plastic wet wipes could be introduced within 18 months.

The Mail’s Turn the Tide on Plastic campaign has already prompted ministers to introduce a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags in 2015, cutting their use in the main supermarkets by 95 per cent. The charge has since increased to 10p and extended to all retailers. Bans on plastic microbeads, straws, stirrers and cotton buds have followed.

Earlier this month, Labour MP Fleur Anderson introduced a Private Members’ Bill calling for a ban on plastic wet wipes.

She said the problem was growing, with the Marine Conservation Society reportedly seeing an increase from 1.7 wet wipes per average 100 metres of beach to 18 wet wipes from 2005 to 2020.

She added: ‘When these plastics enter our local marine environment and water systems in such large volumes the damage is absolutely devastating. Globally, a hundred million animals die each year from plastic waste alone.’ 

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