Toby has given his backing to a campaign by fellow Labour MP Fleur Anderson MP to prohibit the manufacture and sale of wet wipes containing plastic. Her Bill will have its first reading on Tuesday 2nd November and has support from fellow MPs and organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society, Thames 21, Thames Water, the Green Alliance, Water UK and the WWF.

Toby stated “I’m pleased to give my backing for Fleur’s campaign to ban wet wipes containing plastic. People want to do the right things and we should be enabling them to make environmentally conscious choices. There has been confusion around which wet wipes can be flushed and which can’t. With wet wipes available to buy which are environmentally-friendly, we should be taking urgent action to stop our rivers being clogged up by wet wipes with plastic material”.

He added “As Fleur’s Bill comes in the same week as world leaders are meeting for COP26, passing this law would show that the UK can take serious action and ban plastic from wet wipes made and sold in the UK.”

The disposal of single-use, non-degradable wet wipes is a growing problem and is a leading cause of harm for our water systems and our marine environments. 90% of the astonishing 11 billion wet wipes that are used in the UK every year contain some form of plastic. That is 163 wet wipes for every person in the UK every year.

The plastic in wet wipes breaks down into microplastics, which can be ingested by marine and riverine animals, and are entering into our food chain and water supply. The environmental damage caused by plastic waste is causing an ecological disaster with 100 million marine animals dying each year from plastic waste alone.

Wet wipes are also behind 93% of blockages in UK sewers and are even changing the shape of our rivers as they pile up on beds and banks. Not only is it possible to manufacture wet wipes without plastic, non-plastic alternatives are on the market already. There are bamboo fibre wipes, plant-based wipes, organic cotton wipes and washable re-usable cloths.

Holland and Barratt recently became the first shop on the high street to introduce a complete ban on the sale of all wet wipe products and plan to replace them with environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives.

In January 2019, the UK water industry published their ‘Fine to Flush’ specification in response to an increasing number of products being labelled as flushable, but which could still potentially cause blockages in the sewer system. However, a recent 2021 update to a survey conducted by the Marine Conservation Society in November 2020, found that only two out of ten main UK retailers has ensured that all of their own brand flushable wet wipes meet the ‘Fine to Flush’ specification. Of the other eight retailers, only four have committed to doing so by the end of 2021.

During the Environment Bill report stage in the Lords, Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith maintained that DEFRA was working on the issue of wet wipes, but cannot give a timeline or specific plans yet.

Toby Perkins MP
Toby Perkins MP
Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search