By Katie Grant
Environmentalists have heralded a proposed ban on wet wipes as we know them as a marker of the end of modern “flushaway culture” that could see Britain “restore nature instead of destroying it”.
"If we can develop the technology for driverless cars, surely we can design a way of keeping our kids clean without plastic"
Pulling the plug on wet wipes
The Government is pulling the plug on wet wipes and other single-use products in favour of eco-friendly alternatives as part of a drive to eliminate plastic waste.
Why the wet wipe wipe out?
Wet wipes contain non-biodegradable plastic and are not recyclable nor flushable - though that hasn’t stopped households across the UK attempting to dispose of the single-use cloths down the toilet.
The wipes account for 93 per cent of the material causing sewage blockages across the country, a study published by Water UK, which represents all of the main water and sewerage companies in the country, found.
“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,” a spokeswoman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
"Many consumers don’t realise that wet wipes contain plastic and flushing them is clogging up our riverbeds, oceans and natural areas”
The proposed wipe out may strike fear into the hearts of parents who rely on the disposable cloths to deal with sticky-fingered children on a daily basis, but it has been welcomed by environmental bodies.
If we can develop driverless cars we can produce eco-friendly wet wipes
“Phasing out wet wipes may well make many parents shudder at the thought of cleaning up their kids without these handy go-to items.
"But if we can develop the technology for driverless cars, surely we can design a way of keeping our kids clean without plastic,” said Mike Childs, head of science at the environmental charity Friends of the Earth (FOTE).
Chance to restore nature
Mr Childs expressed hopes that the announcement “be the nudge” manufacturers needed to create products which do not damage the environment.
“We can become the generation that changes our flushaway culture"
Lang Banks, a spokesman for WWF, echoed Mr Childs comments.
“Many consumers don’t realise that wet wipes contain plastic and flushing them is clogging up our riverbeds, oceans and natural areas,” Mr Lang said.
“Banning all avoidable single-use plastic by 2025 would force companies to develop new products that don’t fill our oceans with waste that never disappears.
“We can become the generation that changes our flushaway culture and begins to restore nature instead of destroying it, but we need government policy to lead the way,” he added.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of the pressure group A Plastic Planet, said:
"This is yet another example of a product that we thought for decades was harmless, but in fact has proven to be an environmental disaster.
"We are finally being made aware of not only the bin-fulls of pointless plastic in our kitchens but now the less visible plastic that we flush away daily without a thought about where it is going."
She added: "It's up to business and Whitehall to work together to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution once and for all."
This piece originally appeared on our sister site, iNews