Wet wipes ban: UK takes another major step to fight plastic pollution

“As part of our 25-year environment plan we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste and that includes single-use products that include plastic such as wet wipes.”

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Image Credit: Hull Daily Mail

In another major effort to curb its plastic waste, the United Kingdom recently announced it plan to ban the sale of wet wipes throughout the country. Wet wipes will now join the list of banned plastic products in the U.K.’s fight against plastic pollution.

“As part of our 25-year environment plan we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste and that includes single-use products that include plastic such as wet wipes,” the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement to MailOnline.

Wet wipes, which are often made of non-biodegradable materials like polyester and polypropylene and marketed as “flushable,” wreak havoc on the environment. Because the material won’t breakdown, wet wipes instead “clump and congeal with cooking grease and other discarded items, and as a result, clog the world’s sewer systems,” Eco Watch reported.

These clogs, also referred to as “fatbergs,” are responsible for ¬monthly cleanup efforts costing upward of 1 million in the greater London area, while New York City spent $18 million between 2010-2015 on wet wipe related environmental issues, The New York Times reported.

Wet wipe pollution is also taking over many of the U.K.’s rivers. In a recent cleanup effort by Thames 21,the London-based group collected more than 5,000 wet wipes from the Thames River, according to EcoWatch.

Yet, the wet wipe industry is on pace to grow 7 percent annually. Their most common uses include cleaning babies and removing makeup and in many countries, wet wipes are a commonality in bathrooms.

But the U.K. continues to take major steps to fight the country’s plastic pollution. As of recent, the U.K. government banned microbeads and put restrictions on plastic bag use and announced its plan to end sales of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton swabs. All while Teresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister pledged 61.4 million toward cleaning the world’s plastic pollution from the oceans.

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Ashley is an editor, social media content manager and writer at NationofChange. Before joining NoC, she was a features reporter at The Daily Breeze – a local newspaper in Southern California – writing a variety of stories on current topics including politics, the economy, human rights, the environment and the arts. Ashley is a transplant from the East Coast calling Los Angeles home.

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