An MP is urging the Government to 'move ahead' with the proposed ban while the Environment Minister has urged people not to use them
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Wet wipes containing plastic could be banned to help reduce damage to the environment. And now, a Government minister has urged the public to avoid using wet wipes.
Ministers have been told this is a "very achievable action", with Labour MP Fleur Anderson urging the Government to "move ahead" with the ban following the end of its consultation in February 12. She said such a move could lessen the "use of wet wipes altogether" and "dramatically reduce plastic in our environment ".
The MP for Putney, who presented the Plastics (Wet Wipes) Bill in the Commons, told the PA news agency that we use at least 11 billion wet wipes a year. She said the material blocks loos and it costs water companies £100m to clear the blockages.
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She also said Boots and Tesco had banned plastic in all the wet wipes they sold, adding that for Tesco that amounted to 4.8 billion wet wipes a year. "If Boots and Tesco can do it, all the manufacturers can do it," she added.
The MP further highlighted the issue of a lack of awareness that flushing them down causes harm to the sewer systems. The wipes don't disintegrate, they stay in the system for a long time and go out to the sea, she pointed out.
In addition, she said wet wipes caused marine damage, killing fish through the ingestion of plastic, and pollution to rivers through storm overflows. She said there was an island the size of two tennis courts near Hammersmith Bridge in the Thames, made up of just wet wipes, before adding that companies were able to substitute plastic with other materials.
The MP is seeking further consideration of the Bill at second reading in September. Speaking during a session of questions on the environment, food and rural affairs in the Commons, Ms Anderson said: "Billions of wet wipes containing plastic are still being used across the country, causing environmental damage, blocking our sewers."
Speaking in the Commons after being asked to meet Ms Fleur to discuss a ban, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: "Obviously we got a huge response to this call for evidence. We are working our way through the details and, of course, we have to make sure that, if a ban is brought in, it doesn’t have knock-on effects that will cause similar problems because, even though other wet wipes might be deemed suitable to flush, they still get stuck in sewers, so we have to be mindful of all of that.
"What I would say to everybody is if you don’t need to use a wet wipe don’t, but also don’t chuck them down the loo."
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