Wet wipes containing plastic add to the microplastic pollution in the ocean and often cause sewer blockages. This is why Labour MP Fleur Anderson wants to ban these wet wipes completely in the UK.
British MP Fleur Anderson is calling to prohibit the manufacture and sale of wet wipes containing plastic in the United Kingdom. The Labour politician announced that she was seeking a corresponding ban via a bill going through Parliament.
According to Ms Anderson, the disposal of non-degradable single-use wet wipes is a growing problem and one of the main causes of damage done to the British sewage water system and marine environments. 90 per cent of the eleven billion wet wipes used every year in the UK contained some form of plastic, she said. The per-capita consumption in the UK is 163 wet wipes per year. The plastic in the wet wipes turned into microplastics when broken down, Ms Anderson claimed, which could be ingested by marine and riverine animals, thereby entering the food chain and water supply.
The MP explained that wet wipes were also causing 93 per cent of the sewer blockages in the UK and were even changing the shape of rivers as they piled up on beds and banks. The Thames Water area alone had on average 85,000 blockages a year due to fat and wet wipes, she reported.
Toilet paper, in contrast, is made from 100 per cent paper that degrades quickly and does not cause any harm to the sewage system. Environmental associations such as the WWF also recommend to bin wet wipes and not to flush them in the toilet if one cannot do without them.
Ms Anderson also drew public attention to the fact that non-plastic alternatives were on the market already. There were bamboo fibre wipes, plant-based wipes, organic cotton wipes and washable re-usable cloths, she said. MS Anderson also points to the fact that the UK water industry has published their 'Fine to Flush' specification in response to an increasing number of products being labelled as flushable, but which could still potentially cause blockages in the sewer system.
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