Ban Plastics in Wet Wipes

Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central is backing her Labour colleague’s Private Member’s Bill to prohibit the manufacture and sale of wet wipes containing plastic.

Ms Onwurah said:

Its hard to believe but we use 11 billion wet wipes a year in the UK, but most of us are unaware that 90% of them contain plastic.

“Everyone should bin and not flush wet wipes, but either way they contain plastic which gets in the environment and kills wildlife.

When the used wet wipes are then disposed of the plastic in them breaks down into microplastics, which can be ingested by animals in rivers and  then by marine life, and can enter into our food chain as well as our water supplies.

“ As we all know the environmental damage caused by plastic waste is causing an ecological disaster with 100 million marine animals dying each year from  plastic waste alone.

Chi believes that most people want to do the right thing by cutting down on their  use of plastic and is supporting the Bill so everyone who relies on the use of wet wipes can be sure they are not releasing plastic into the environment.

The Bill will be discussed in the House of Commons next week as world leaders are meeting for COP26 and Chi is keen to show that the UK can take serious action by banning plastic in wet wipes made and sold in Britain.

Chi points out not only is it possible to manufacture wet wipes without plastic, non-plastic alternatives are on the market already. There are bamboo fibre wipes, plant based wipes, organic cotton wipes and washable re-usable cloths.


Notes for Editors

1) Fleur Anderson MP’s Bill to prohibit the manufacture and sale of wet wipes containing plastic will have its first reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 2nd November

2) The Bill has the support of several organisations including the Marine Conservation Society, Thames 21, Thames Water, the Green Alliance, Water UK and the WWF.

3) Additional information:
Globally, the wet wipes market is worth US$ 3.7 Billion and is growing rapidly. It is projected to be worth US$ 8.0 Billion by the end of 2031(Source: Future Market Insights). – Further analysis of the identifiable ‘domestic’ flushed products found in blockages that 78% of the amount recovered were baby wipes, 9% surface wipes, 4% cosmetic and 2% ‘flushable’ wipes. – During the Great British Beach Clean in 2020, 18 wet wipes were found on average per 100m of beaches in the UK. This was a considerable increase from 2005 (when they were first recorded as their own category) where the average number of wet wipes found was 1.7 per 100m. – While most civil society organisations support the ‘fine to flush’ standard, there is widespread concern that many products are claiming to be flushable but do not properly meet the standard. – Not all wipes which claim to be ‘flushable’, or similar, have passed this standard as it is voluntary standard. This standard should be mandatory and any wipes which do not meet ‘Fine to flush’ should be clearly labelled ‘Do not flush’ on the front of the packet.

4) During the Environment Bill report stage in the Lords, Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith maintained that DEFRA was working on the issue of wet wipes, but cannot give a timeline or specific plans yet


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