Household wet wipes will be banished in the UK as part of Michael Gove??s drive to crack down on plastic being thrown away and damaging ecosystems, the government has said.
If they are outlawed, shoppers will no longer be able to buy the wipes, which are mostly made of polyester and contain millions of microfibres impregnated with chemicals.
Tens of thousands of wet wipes are sold in Britain each year, and despite public awareness campaigns, many are still flushed into lavatories, where they end up clogging mains?sewers,and go on to kill fish in rivers and other marine life as the?fibres?are released.
spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: ??As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes.
??We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure?labelling?on?packaging?is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly ?? and we support the industry’s efforts to make their customers aware of this important issue.??
LimitedShe declined to say whether this meant it would become illegal to buy or sell wet wipes or when the measure would begin.
Defra says it is still considering new taxes to reduce the amount of single-use plastics wasted.
Wet wipes, which contain plastic, slowly break down into microplastics, which are then ingested by marine life, with deadly consequences.
Mr Gove, the environment secretary, has decided to clamp down after a group that cleans up rivers last week revealed that wet wipes were changing the shapes of river beds.
Thames 21 found more than 5,000 of them alongside the Thames in an area half the size of a tennis court.
Members retrieved 5,453 wet wipes last month in an area in west London – an increase of nearly 1,000 on last year??s total. They said similar accumulations were happening in rivers nationwide.
Flushing a wet wipe isn??t disposing of it. It??s environmental littering.