UK government wants to ‘eliminate’ wet wipes in plastic crackdown

May 8, 2018 by  
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It’s not just plastic bottles and plastic bags clogging waterways — wet wipes are a pervasive problem, and the United Kingdom government is planning to banish them in a plastic waste crackdown. A Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesperson told The Independent , “As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes.” Many wet wipes, which contain plastic, are still flushed down toilets — and according to the BBC , are behind around 93 percent of sewer blockages in the UK. The Defra spokesperson didn’t say whether or not it would be illegal to sell or buy wet wipes. She did say, “We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure labeling on packaging is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly — and we support the industry’s efforts to make their customers aware of this important issue.” Related: Wet wipe pollution is clogging up riverbeds across the UK The BBC said manufacturers will either have to design wipes free of plastic, or people will have to live without them. They quoted Defra as saying it is “encouraging innovation so that more and more of these products can be recycled and are working with industry to support the development of alternatives, such as a wet wipe product that does not contain plastic and can therefore be flushed.” Besides congesting rivers, wet wipes are also part of so-called fatbergs , or congealed mounds of trash and fat in sewers — and the BBC said fatbergs are mainly comprised of wet wipes. The Independent said there are thought to be at least 12 fatbergs beneath London . Earlier this month, a UK environmental organization revealed over 5,000 wet wipes in a space as big as half of a tennis court near the River Thames . Tens of thousands of the wipes are sold every year in Britain. Via The Independent and the BBC Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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UK government wants to ‘eliminate’ wet wipes in plastic crackdown

Wet wipe pollution is clogging up riverbeds across the UK

May 2, 2018 by  
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The UK’s obsession with wet wipes is completely changing rivers around the country. A London environmental group found a 1,000-fold increase in the number of wet wipes showing up in waterways, with more than 5,000 of them covering the bed of the Thames in just 116 square meters (about 1,250 square feet). “The Thames riverbed is changing. Wet wipes are accumulating on the riverbed and affecting the shape of the riverbed,” said Kirsten Downer of Thames 21 , a non-profit working to clean up the rivers in England. “It looks natural, but when you get close you can see that these clumps are composed of wet wipes mixed with twigs and mud.” The wet wipe industry has expanded beyond baby wipes – now there’s ‘moist towelettes’ for everything, including pet wipes and anti-malarial wipes. The market is expected to grow into a $4 billion industry by 2021, and as it grows, there will be an increase in wipes polluting waterways around the world. Even though many companies advertise their products as flushable, wet wipes are usually made from cotton and plastic weaved together, which means they definitely aren’t biodegradable. People “don’t realize that you are not supposed to flush wet wipes down the toilet,” Downer said to The Guardian . Related: “Family cloths” reusable toilet wipes: gross or great? A study in the UK showed that wet wipes are particularly insidious when it comes to clogging up sewers. According to the research, wet wipes comprised 93 percent of the material in blockages. “We want people to realize that this is not just happening on the Thames, but on rivers and canals all around the country,” Downer said. “All the time we were working, people kept coming to ask what we were doing. People are far more upset and concerned about the plastics problem than they ever have been.” Via The Guardian Images via Deposit Photos and Luca Micheli

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Wet wipe pollution is clogging up riverbeds across the UK

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