Scots urged to clean up their act and ditch wet wipes for good

Scottish Water said the majority of blockages they attend feature wet wipes, which are harmful to the environment.

Scottish Water launch Nature Calls campaign to ban wet wipes containing plastic iStock

Scots are being urged to clean up their act and ditch wet wipes in a bid to protect the environment. 

Around 11 billion wipes are estimated to be used in the UK each year, with 90% of those containing plastic which when broken down leads to microplastics left in the environment.

Scottish Water said 80% of blockages they attend feature wet wipes which have been flushed down the toilet, at a cost of £7m to customers. 

The company is now calling for a ban on wipes containing plastic and are urging customers to bin the items properly to help end sewer blockages and flooding.

The Nature Calls campaign has been backed by a number of environmental organisations including the Marine Conservation Society, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste Scotland.

Douglas Millican, Scottish Water chief executive, said: “Our message to our customers is clear: please bin the wipes and help us protect the environment.

“And to policymakers we say now is the time to ban all wipes containing plastic and rid our sewers, rivers and beaches of this needless problem. 

“Last year, more than 10,000 tonnes of material – the equivalent of 80 blue whales – was removed from Scotland’s waste water plants. Many thousands of tonnes more ended up blocking sewers, causing flooding, or being flushed into rivers during storms and heavy rain.”

Research by the Marine Conservation Society has shown that wipes are now the most common cause of beach pollution.

Environment minister Mairi McAllan added: “The actions we take at home can help protect Scotland’s world-renowned rivers, lochs, wetlands and seas. 

“Flushing inappropriate items contributes to serious blockages in our sewers, unsightly debris in our rivers and can cause great harm to our marine environment; by being aware of this and changing our habits we can all help protect our precious rivers, seas and wildlife.

“Every year, hundreds of millions of pieces of single-use plastic are wasted in this country – they litter our coasts, pollute our oceans and contribute to the climate emergency. 

“Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds and we have taken action to place market restrictions on plastic microbeads. We are pursuing proposals to ban some of the most problematic single-use plastic items, such as straws and plastic cutlery, subject to the impact of the UK Internal Market Act 2020.

“We support the calls to ban wet wipes containing plastic and encourage the UK Government and other administrations to work with us to bring forward bans on unnecessary and environmentally harmful products.”

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