Britain's environmental initiative could ban wet wipes

Scooter riders wait to cross a road on a heavily polluted day in Shijiazhuang

AFP Getty Images Scooter riders wait to cross a road on a heavily polluted day in Shijiazhuang

One social media user tweeted: "All of these parents and disabled people are right, and a wet wipe ban is absurd; it would be better to campaign on not flushing them", another wrote: "How would I clean the children!"

"As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes", a spokeswoman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

According to Water UK, which represents the country's main water and wastewater companies, wet wipes accounted for 93 percent of the materials that caused sewer blockages examined in a recent study.

The Defra spokesperson added that the government wants to encourage innovation at the design stage, to improve the recyclability of wet wipes, stating that it is "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".

Mike Childs, head of science at Friends of the Earth said: "Phasing out wet wipes may well make many parents shudder at the thought of cleaning up their kids without these handy go-to items.

We are also continuing to work with industry to make sure labelling on the packaging of these products is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly".

Wet wipes are set to be "eliminated" in Britain in the latest round of ministers' war on single use plastic.

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Authorities say that rather than breaking down like toilet paper, wet wipes "lurk in pipes and merge with fat" to create fatbergs - massive lumps that create obstacles in sewer systems.

It comes as the United Kingdom government proposed a new ban on certain single-use plastics in a bid to reduce plastic waste last month.

In Australia, a 1-tonne wet wipe blockage was pulled from a sewer in Newcastle, New South Wales, and 120 tonnes of wipes are removed every year in Queensland, reported ABC.

Defra is considering new taxes meant to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are wasted, according to the Independent.

The other 7% was made up of a range of other materials including feminine hygiene products, cotton pads and plastic wrappers. Despite some products being labelled as "flushable", they still contain polyester plastics. "It's environmental littering", says the U.K.'s Environment Agency.

"These wipes are biodegradeable, take 3ml of liquid on average".

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