We’ve seen big changes in the last few years with plastic bags. Now, along with plastic straws and cotton buds, baby wipes and household wipes are next in line to be banned in the UK. This is all part of the movement to discontinue single use products that take hundreds of years to degrade.
The average nappy is estimated to take around 300 years to degrade.
Wet wipes are behind 93% of blockages in UK sewers, a key element of the fatbergs, according to Water UK, the trade body representing all of the main water and sewerage companies in the country.
That has prompted the government and industry to focus on persuading consumers not to flush them into the wastewater system.
Personally, I avoid flushing wipes down the toilet and I’m surprised people actually do.
The future of wet wipes
A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment (Defra) said.
“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,”
Defra says it is also “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”.
Baby wipes aren’t the only disposable wipes in the firing line. Cleaning wipes and toilet wipes are also facing a ban. As a parent it’s hard to imagine a world without wipes but if more people kept them out of our sewers by not flushing them down the toilet much of the problem would be resolved.
The government has also said it will consult over whether or not to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers.