The government has revealed plans to eliminate plastic waste in the next 25 years - including single-use items such as wet wipes, including face wipes.
Wet wipes are a staple of almost all households. Whether you use them to clean your hands after a meal, on your baby, or to remove your make-up – they’re an easy, quick fix for any kind of mess or spill.
But the wipes generally contain non bio-degradable plastic – meaning they’re not environmentally friendly.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said that the wet wipe could well be wiped out completely within the next few decades, as part of the “avoidable plastic waste” they plan to ban.
Wet wipes have in fact contributed to many, huge blockages within the UK’s sewers and pipes. The appearance of ‘fatbergs’ are in fact largely down to incorrect disposal of wet wipes. A fatberg is a congealed lump in a sewer system formed by the combination of non-biodegradable solid matter such as wet wipes with grease or cooking fat.
Wet wipes are not meant to be flushed into the water waste system, and should instead be thrown into bins after use.
But currently, 93% of blockages in the UK are down to wet wipes, according to Water UK. The wipes form the largest part of materials – or ‘fatbergs’ – blocking our sewers, with another 7% made up of feminine hygiene products, cotton pads, and plastic wrappers.
According to Defra, it’s key to ensure that customers are aware of how to properly dispose of wet wipes and similar products.
They said, “We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure labelling on packaging is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly.”
And they told the BBC that they are also, “encouraging innovation so that more and more of these products can be recycled and are working with industry to support the development of alternatives, such as a wet-wipe product that does not contain plastic and can therefore be flushed”.
However, it has been said that manufacturers of the wipes could begin developing biodegredable wipes, in order to avoid the ban on the handy product.
This news comes after Prime Minister Theresa May pledged that government would eradicate all “avoidable plastic waste” by the year 2042, in a bid to cut down on plastic pollution.
The severity of the plastic waste crisis was most recently brought to light in David Attenborough’s documentary, Blue Planet.
The BBC programme showed the catastrophic effects of careless plastic usage on wildlife – particularly ocean wildlife – spurring many into action.