Wipeout! England to ban almost all wet wipes

Next year, a ban is set to be implemented, but critics argue that this is not the first time the government has promised to tackle the issue of wet wipes

The Environment Minister, Therese Coffey, has announced that almost all wet wipes containing plastic will be banned in England as part of a plan to address water pollution.

The ban is set to take effect in the next year after a consultation.

The move is part of a broader strategy to enhance the quality of water in England, where no river or waterway is considered to be clean.

Wet wipes are a major contributor to sewer blockages, with 93% of blockages being caused by wipes that are flushed down toilets, including the notorious fatbergs.

Clearing these blockages costs around £100 million annually, according to Water UK, which represents the water industry.

Approximately 90% of wet wipes contain plastic, although alternative options are now available for purchase.

As plastic does not decompose, the wipes become entangled over time and obstruct sewage flow through pipes.

Ms Coffey told BBC News that they propose to ban plastic from wet wipes.

However, the plan has been criticised by environmental groups and opposition members who deem it to be inadequate.

Feargal Sharkey has criticised the government’s latest statement on wet wipes, describing it as “muddled and confused” during his appearance on Good Morning Britain earlier today.

This is not the first time the government has made such an announcement, with Sharkey noting that it marks the third instance in the past five years.

Matt Browne, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “There is much to welcome in the multiple threads of today’s water announcements. Less plastic waste from wet wipes, bringing forward infrastructure investment, stronger forever chemical regulation, and funding from fines to deliver river restoration are all individually positive.

“But what we are still waiting to see is a comprehensive plan built around delivering on a long-term target for the health of our waters’ and an ambitious UK chemicals strategy to weave these individual threads into a world-leading tapestry of action to restore our rivers and seas.

“With so much of our wildlife and waters struggling under the weight of pollution, development, and overuse only a well-focused, well-resourced and far-reaching plan will turn the tide for nature.”

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