Wipe them out: Conservatives call for Wales-wide wet wipe ban

Wet wipe. Image by Squirrel_photos from Pixabay

The Welsh Conservatives have called for wet wipes containing plastics to be banned in Wales.

Climate Change Shadow Minister Janet Finch-Saunders MS backed a Dŵr Cymru to add wipes containing plastics to the government’s ban list.

She said that the UK’s 11 billion wet wipes were behind 93% of blockages in sewers, as well as piling up on riverbeds and banks.

“These wipes continue to contribute to a significant number of sewer blockages, causing concerning overspills,” Janet Finch-Saunders said.

“Alarmingly, Welsh Water are dealing with around 2,000 sewer blockages every month in Wales – the major causes of which are cotton buds and wipes. A single wet wipe is enough to start a blockage in a sewer pipe and risks causing catastrophic flooding in your home.

“We must all begin to treat these wipes like we would any other single-use plastic. That is why I am supporting this Welsh Water campaign which calls on the Welsh Government to include wipes which contain plastic to their proposed ban.

“Those wipes that are discarded properly through bin waste will often end up in landfill or get incinerated. This contributes to carbon emissions and poor air quality, both of which are particular points of concern which must be confronted during our green recovery.”

 

‘Damage’

A survey commissioned by Welsh Water last week found that more than four-fifths of the public would support a ban on wet wipes containing plastic.

A further 94% of respondents thought companies should be making wet wipes without plastic in them.

The findings come as the Welsh Government launched a consultation on a proposed ban on single-use plastics. While it is marked as a future consideration, it has not formally included wet wipes in the initial stage of the proposed regulations.

The survey also found that 60% of those asked said they should personally reduce the number of wet wipes they flush down the toilet, while more than nine out of 10 adults in Wales recognised that people should never flush wet wipes down the toilet.

Welsh Water estimates that a ban could help reduce the total number of blockages caused by wet wipes alone by around a third, and reduce the cost of tackling these by around £3 million.

Steve Wilson, Managing Director of Wastewater Services, said: “We already know that a single wet wipe with plastic in it can cause a blockage in your sewer – and cause catastrophic flooding to your neighbourhood, home and property.

“We know that our customers use wet wipes a lot because they’re useful – particularly in homes with children – and we want these plastic wipes to be replaced with an alternative, sustainable biodegradable material. Wipes with plastic can cause huge damage to customers’ homes and to the environment we value so much.

“A ban on plastic wipes would have a potentially huge effect on these issues that can devastate lives.”

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