A Labour MP is proposing a new law which would ban the use of plastic in wet wipes, amid concerns they are causing an ‘ecological disaster’.
Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, has highlighted the fact that of the 11 billion wet wipes used in the UK every year, 90% of them contain plastic – leading to ‘untold damage to our water systems and marine environments’.
‘As a mother of four children, I completely understand the pressures that parents are under and the difficulties that can bring when trying to cut down on plastic and make the right choices for the environment,’ Ms Anderson said.
‘I know that parents want to do the right things and all I am saying is that we can make it easier on them and on everyone who relies on the use of wet wipes every day.’
Wet wipes – whether they be baby wipes, cleaning wipes or personal cleansing wipes – are a way to get a quick and easy clean, remove make-up or clean up after a nappy change, but they’re not always an eco-friendly option.
Should you flush them away once you’ve used them – or should you use a different method of disposal?
In general, you should not flush wet wipes down the toilet, even if the packaging claims they are flushable.
The only exception to this rule is if the product is labelled ‘Fine to Flush’ by Water UK – meaning that they do not contain any plastic and will break down in the sewers.
Wet wipes have to undergo stringent tests of their flushability by the technical experts at the Water Research Centre before they can receive this certification.
Some wipes that have received the ‘fine to flush’ mark include Aldi Saxon Soft flushable toilet wipes, Andrex’s Washlet range, Natracare.
We use 11 billion wet wipes a year in the UK and 90% of them contain plastic. This is causing untold damage to our water systems and marine environments. Please support my Ten-Minute Rule Bill on November 2nd to #BanPlasticInWetWipes.@mcsuk @Thames21 @WaterUK @GreenAllianceUK pic.twitter.com/sasSm1vqXu
You can find a list of which products have been given the ‘Fine To Flush’ certification at their website.
Flushing other types of wipes which do not have this certification can clog drains and ultimately cause problems elsewhere in the water system.
An investigation by Water.org back in 2017 found that 90% of blockages are caused by wipes.
As well as being responsible for the ‘fatbergs’ which have plagued sewers in recent years, the plastic in wipes can also be harmful.
When disposed of, this breaks down and turns to microplastic, which can be ingested by wildlife and cause pollution.- as well as enter the water supply and the food chain.
If you are using wet wipes which don’t have the Fine To Flush endorsement the safest way to dispose of them is to put them in your rubbish bin.
If you want to do your bit for the environment, you could consider cutting down on your wet wipe usage or switching to a more natural, biodegradable brand such as one of those listed below.
Some of those listed are also compostable – meaning you can add them to your own compost bin if you have one for your household waste.
Alternatively, you could try making your own, using either paper towels, bleach and water – or kitchen cloths if you want to make reusable ones.
While many wet wipes contain plastic, there are eco-friendly alternatives which contain no plastic and will cause less harm to the environment when they start to break down.
As with all wet wipes, you should still dispose of these in the bin unless they are certified as Fine To Flush.
These are some of the more eco-friendly brands.
Cheeky Wipes - reusable baby wipes made from cloth and essential oils
Cheeky Panda - all of Cheeky Panda's products, including baby wipes and facial cleansing wipes, are made from bamboo and water, and are 100% biodegradable and compostable.
Bambino Mio - another company offering reusable wipes, which you can simply use with water
MyPura - Plastic-free, biodegradable, compostable wipes made from water and organic aloe vera.
Aldi Mamia - plastic free, biodegradable and, with prices starting from just 52p for a pack of 64 regular (non-sensitive) wipes, they're a good option for those on a tighter budget.
Nivea - the skincare giants do a plastic-free wipe which contains argan oil and aloe vera.
Simple - all of Simple's wipes are now made from sustainably-sourced plant-based fibres which biodegrade naturally - plus the packaging is also recyclable.
MORE : How eco-friendly was last week’s budget – and what will the impact be?
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