In the U.K., 11 billion wet wipes are used each year that contain plastic
Billions of wet wipes, a common household product used for disinfecting surfaces, that have been discarded are ending up in London, England’s river Thames — and are now changing its course.
“There’s an island the size of two tennis courts and I’ve been and stood on it — it’s near Hammersmith Bridge in the Thames and it’s a metre deep or more in places of just wet wipes,” MP Fleur Anderson said in the House of Commons, The Times reported. “It’s actually changed the course of the Thames.”
In the U.K., 11 billion wet wipes are used each year that contain plastic, Anderson wrote in a press release.
Wet wipes are often flushed down toilets and clog up sewers. They also contribute to “fatbergs” — giant blocks made up of garbage, fat, oil and grease that meld together after being poured down drains. Wet wipes and other items, like diapers and cotton balls, that shouldn’t be flushed end up entangled in the “fatbergs.”
Wet wipes make up 90 per cent of the material found in “fatbergs,” The London Economic reported.
In 2019, a “fatberg” the size of a bus, weighing 40 tonnes, was cleared from London’s sewers.
“This has an impact on our ecology, on the wildlife and it’s got to be stopped,” said Anderson in a video posted on Twitter, pushing for a ban on wipes that contain plastic.
I filmed this video standing on a wet wipe mound with @Thames21 just a few weeks ago at their Big Wet Wipe Count - it was quite shocking 🤯 I'm happy to see @thetimes talking about this important issue. We must #BanPlasticInWetWipes now 👇 https://t.co/bDXNEzQy2D pic.twitter.com/kdfiN3ID8o
Only banning the use of wet wipes with plastic might not be enough, said environment minister Rebecca Pow at a House of Commons debate on Thursday.
“Even though other wet wipes might be deemed suitable to flush, they still get stuck in sewers, so we have to be mindful of that,” she said. “If you don’t need to use a wet wipe, don’t — and don’t chuck them down the loo.”
The issue was “revolting,” Pow added, saying sewage overflows were more frequent due to the wipes.
On Thursday, she said she would be proposing some suggestions on how to tackle the issue shortly.
Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.
365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4
© 2022 Chatham This Week, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.