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Coverage of the UK-wide ban on wet wipes containing plastic

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: water

There has been coverage, including in the Telegraph, Sky News, The Independent, Daily Mail, The Times and The Mirror of the publication of the government response to our consultation on a ban on plastic-containing wet wipes. Today’s announcement sets out the next steps to ban the sale and supply of wet wipes containing plastic across the UK.

The ban addresses pollution caused by wet wipes breaking down into microplastics, which can be harmful to human health and disrupt ecosystems. The legislation for England will be brought forward ahead of summer recess, with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales following in the autumn.

The ban follows a public consultation, which saw 95% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the proposal. Many major retailers like Boots and Aldi noted they have already stopped selling wet wipes containing plastic. There will now be an 18-month transition period from when legislation is passed to allow businesses time to prepare.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: 

Wet wipes containing plastic are polluting our waterways and causing microplastics to enter the environment. Defra will introduce legislation before the summer recess to crack down on this unnecessary source of pollution, following our successful single-use carrier bag charge and ban on microbeads in personal care products.

I have been clear that a step change is needed to protect our waterways from pollution. The ban builds on a raft of actions already taken to protect our waterways and hold water companies accountable - including accelerating investment, putting water company fines back into the environment and quadrupling the number of inspections of water company sites.

Today’s announcement follows recent measures delivered to improve the water environment, including:

  • A new £11m Water Restoration Fund to reinvest water company fines and penalties back into the water environment.
  • Requiring companies to monitor 100% of storm overflows in England - providing a complete picture of when and where sewage spills happen.
  • Removing the cap on civil penalties for water companies and broadening their scope so swifter action can be taken against those who pollute our waterways.
  • Requiring the largest infrastructure programme in water company history - £60 billion over 25 years – to revamp ageing assets and reduce the number of sewage spills by hundreds of thousands every year.
  • Increasing protections for coastal and estuarine waters by expanding the Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan, prioritising bathing waters, sites of special scientific interest and shellfish waters.
  • A targeted plan to better preserve and protect the River Wye, including £35m in funding.
  • Speeding up the process of building key water supply infrastructure, including more reservoirs and water transfer schemes.
  • The government also continues to support Water UK’s ‘Bin the Wipe’ campaign to address the environmental and drainage impacts of flushing wet wipes. Advice is clear that only the 3 P’s (Pee, Poo & [toilet] Paper) should ever be flushed down a toilet.

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  1. Comment by Mike Mellor posted on

    I find these blogs very useful to get the government’s perspective on a wide range of environmental issues. Thank you. 👏👏

    • Replies to Mike Mellor>

      Comment by alan wightman posted on

      Civil Service sector with most staff and work-shy, finally return to office after 2 year row. (Daily Express/Cabinet Ministers). Sunak set to sack 70,000 to pay for defence spending. Motivation to return to office or `For Whom the Bell Tolls? (Apologies to Hemingway). Everybody loves DEFRA!