Fleur Anderson Calls for Ban on Plastic in Wet Wipes

Putney MP says new law would reduce blockages in the sewer network

Fatbergs Clogging Pipes In Basingstoke. Picture: Thames Water

Putney’s MP wants a new law to ban wet wipes containing plastic as pictures show the impact they have on the city’s sewer network.

Fleur Anderson wants to end the manufacture and sale of plastic wet wipes to protect the environment.

It comes as Thames Water say they clear 75,000 blockages caused by wet wipes every year.

The MP claims the UK uses 11 billion wet wipes a year and 90 per cent contain plastic – causing “untold damage” to water systems and rivers.

She said, “As a mother of four children, I completely understand the pressures that parents are under and the difficulties that can bring when trying to cut down on plastic and make the right choices for the environment.

“I know that parents want to do the right things and all I am saying is that we can make it easier on them and on everyone who relies on the use of wet wipes every day.”

She added, “My bill comes in the same week as world leaders are meeting for COP26 and will show that the UK can take serious action and ban plastic from wet wipes made and sold in the UK.”

A spokesman for Thames Water said, “We clear around 75,000 blockages from our sewers each year.

“Most of these are caused by cooking fats and oils, which harden to form a thick layer of gunk inside pipes.

“When non-biodegradable items like wet wipes, sanitary items and cotton pads are flushed down the loo, they combine with the gunk.

“This forms huge lumps called fatbergs. Over time, these block pipes, forcing raw sewage back up drains, plug holes and toilets.

“We encourage customers to put wet wipes, along with condoms, sanitary products, cotton wool and dental floss, into the bin, not the loo.

“The best rule to remember as part of our ‘bin it – don’t block it’ campaign is to please only flush the ‘3 Ps’ – that’s pee, poo and toilet paper.”

Wet Wipes Caught In A Sewer. Picture: Thames Water

Debbie Leach, CEO of charity Thames 21, said, “Wet wipes made with plastic are contaminating our rivers and clogging our drains.

“Our research shows that wet wipe products are by far the most common item recorded on the Thames foreshore in London.

“They are building up in heaps on the River Thames foreshore, and the plastic in them could be devastating to wildlife in the river.

“We should never, ever flush a wet wipe – and our message to decision makers is that all wet wipes that contain plastic should be banned.”

James Mayer - Local Democracy Reporter

November 2, 2021