A Labor MP is proposing a new law to ban all wet wipes containing plastic.
Putney MP Fleur Anderson’s bill to ban the manufacture and sale of wet wipes containing plastic will go to first reading on Tuesday.
“As a mother of four, I fully understand the pressures that parents face and the hardships this can cause when trying to cut down on plastic and make the right choices for the environment,” said Ms. Anderson.
“I know parents want to do the right things and all I’m saying is we can make it easier for them and everyone who uses wet wipes on a daily basis.
“Everyone should throw away and not rinse wet wipes, but either way, they contain plastic that gets into the environment and kills wildlife. My bill comes the same week as world leaders gather for Cop26 and will show the UK can take serious action and ban plastic from wet wipes made and sold in the UK.
According to Ms Anderson, 90% of the 11 billion wet wipes used in the UK each year contain some form of plastic which, when broken down, turns into microplastic that can be ingested by wildlife and enter the food chain and water supply.
The wet wipes added by the MP are responsible for 93% of blockages in UK sewers.
Ms Anderson said: ‘A single wastewater treatment plant in east London removes 30 tonnes of wet wipes every day.
“In 2019, 23,000 wet wipes were counted and removed from a single stretch of the Thames foreshore in just two hours. It’s even more terrifying when you consider that our addiction to wet wipes is increasing day by day.
“It not only causes environmental damage and pollutes our marine environments, it also costs water companies around £ 100million a year to clear 300,000 blockages. This is money that then ends up on our water bills each month. “
Ms Anderson calls on manufacturers to switch to non-plastic alternatives and UK retailers to be held responsible for incorrectly labeling their products as ‘Fine to Flush’.
“It’s really not easy to determine which wet wipes contain plastic and which are ‘good to rinse’.
“There will be thousands of people who use wet wipes every day without realizing they are using single-use plastic and with no idea of the damage this is doing to our water systems and marine environments.
“It’s been years since Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) announced it would target wet wipes containing plastic in its attempt to eliminate all preventable single-use plastic from ‘within 25 years.
“Well, it’s Cop26 this week and the environmental bill is going through Parliament. This is the perfect opportunity to keep that promise. Let’s ban plastic in wet wipes once and for all.
In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for Defra said: “With our 25-year environmental plan, we are clearly committed to eliminating all preventable plastic waste.
“We are working with manufacturers and water companies to ensure that the labeling is clear on wet wipes and also to raise awareness of how to dispose of them properly. “