Scottish and UK governments urged to work together to ban plastic-based wipes


SCOTTISH Water has called on the Scottish and UK governments to work together to ban wipes made with plastic.

It comes following the launch of its ‘major’ new campaign to encourage the public not to flush wipes down the toilet.

Dubbed Nature Calls, the nationwide campaign is being backed by the likes of 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 shows that wipes are now the most common cause of beach pollution.

“Wipes are an understandable convenience item – but many contain plastic, that cause serious problems when disposed of inappropriately by flushing down the toilet – blocked sewers, homes flooded with sewage, and pollution on our beaches and rivers.

“Every year our teams deal with around 36,000 blockages at a cost to customers of £7 million annually and around 80 per cent of the blockages we attend feature wipes. Members of the public, communities, campaigners, manufacturers, retailers and governments must all work together to do the right thing for nature now and for generations to come.”

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland conservation officer for the Marine Conservation Society, added, “A staggering 30,000 wet wipes have been picked up by our volunteers right here on Cramond beach over the last five years. It’s not just a problem here though. At last year’s Great British Beach Clean we found an average of 25 wet wipes for every 100m of Scottish beach surveyed.

“Our toilets can still sadly be gateways to the ocean which is why incorrectly flushed items like plastic wet wipes can be found on beaches across Scotland. We need to stop plastic items, like wet wipes, getting into the sewer system and out in the ocean. That’s why we’re supporting the Nature Calls campaign to ban plastic wet wipes and help reduce the number of wipes mis-flushed. Show your support for wet wipe free beaches and seas by supporting the campaign too!”