Wet wipes are small sheets of moistened paper or cloth. Wet wipes have multiples uses such as cleaning babies, cleaning hands or removing makeups. The British government announced that it will focus to make biodegradable wet wipes.
The wet wipes contain plastic elements in it which when flushed down the toilet block the sewage and break down to microplastics. These microplastics cause a threat to the marine life. According to recent reports, 93 percent of sewer block in the UK is due to using of wet wipes. The BBC reports said that either manufacture will have to produce plastic free wipes or the consumers will have to go without them. Although banning them would be a nightmare for parents with infants.
Nearly 300,000 sewer blockages take place in the UK annually. Researchers said by disposing of the wipes rather than flushing it we could have avoided this threat. The wet wipes don’t break down like toilet papers. Wet wipes tend to entrap in pipes and convert into “fatbergs”. Fatbergs are massive lumps that mainly occur due to human waste disposal. These fatbergs create obstacles in the sewer system.
The BBC reports stated that the wet wipe industry flourished in the UK in the past decade. The use has been diversified from cleaning babies to tissues for sensitive skins, insect repellant applications etc.
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs announced that it would encourage innovations to make biodegradable wet wipes. They also expressed their support to the industries to invent plastic-free wipes which can be flushed.
The department is also finding ways to make changes in the tax system which could reduce the consumption of this product as tax enters into the price.
In January, Prime Miniter of UK Theresa May pledged to eradicate plastic from the UK by 2042. As a part of this initiative plastic straws and cotton swabs might be banned. This declaration by the UK government will bring about long-term sustainability goal in the country. Countries like Canada and New Zealand is also planning to implement the same.