Wet wipes could be banned in the UK as the Government cracks down on plastic waste
Wet wipes could be banned in the coming decades as the UK Government gets going with its 25-year plan to crackdown on the plastic waste damaging marine life.
The popular beauty item, which many use to remove their make-up, is non-biodegradable – it slowly breaks down into microplastics, which are then ingested by marine life.
A spokewoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “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.
“We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure labelling 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.”
However, it declined to say whether this meant it would become illegal to buy or sell wet wipes, or when the measure would begin. It most likely means manufacturers will have to develop plastic-free versions.
Defra added: "[We are] 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".
Wipes have also contributed to 93% of blockages, known as “fatbergs”, within UK sewers and pipes, according to Water UK, a trade body that represents all the main water and sewage companies in the country.
The issue was brought to the attention of environment secretary Michael Gove last week when Thames 21, a group that cleans up rivers, found more than 5,000 wipes alongside the Thames in an area half the size of a tennis court.
They also retrieved 5,453 wipes last month in an area in West London, and this was around a 1,000 increase on last year’s total.
In January, Prime Minister Teresa May pledged to eliminate “all avoidable plastic waste” by 2042. The Government has said it will consult over whether to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers.
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