Back to top

Plastic wet wipes ban planned in England to tackle pollution

Posted: 04/04/23

The ban on plastic-based wipes should come into force in the next year following a consultation, Ms Coffey said.

It is part of a wider plan to improve water quality in England, where no river or waterway is considered clean.

But opposition and environment groups criticised the plan as weak.

Wet wipes flushed down toilets cause 93% of sewer blockages including so-called fatbergs and cost around £100m a year to clear up, according to Water UK which represents the water industry.

Around 90% of wipes contain plastic, although there are now some alternatives available to buy. The plastics do not break down and over time the wipes become snagged and stick together, causing sewage to stop moving through pipes.

“Our proposal is to ban plastic from wet wipes,” Ms Coffey told BBC News, adding that a short consultation needed to take place first. “It’s a legal requirement to make sure that we can go ahead with any ban,” she said.

The government first said in 2018 that it planned to eliminate plastic waste including wet wipes. In a 2021 government consultation on banning wet wipes, 96% of people said they supported the idea. Earlier this year the government decided against banning wet wipes, following another consultation.

Some companies, including Boots and Tesco, have already stopped the sale of wet wipes which contain plastic from their shops.

The wet wipes ban is part of a broader strategy, called Plan for Water, which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) wants to improve England’s water quality. It includes a potential ban on some types of so-called forever chemicals or PFAS, tackling pollution from farming and run-off from road traffic.

Click here to read the full BBC News article