UK considers banning wet wipes containing plastic

A ban on wet wipes containing plastic is ‘moving closer’, the Scottish Government has said.

The news comes following the launch of a consultation, being undertaken by all four UK nations, seeking views on a proposed ban on the manufacture, supply, and sale of plastic-containing wet wipes across the UK.

Wet wipes containing plastic break down into microplastics over time, which can be harmful to the environment and human health, the Scottish Government said. Banning these products would help alleviate this issue, as well as reducing the volume of microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants when wrongly flushed, it added.

The Scottish Government’s circular economy minister, Lorna Slater, said, “This is very welcome progress towards a goal we all want to achieve: tackling plastic pollution. Wet wipes containing plastic are an avoidable and yet a growing source of beach litter. They are unsightly; they pose risks to the environment and wildlife; and annually they contribute to around 36,000 sewer system blockages in Scotland, risking flooding and costing approximately £7 million to clear.

“This is only the first step: legislation alone cannot solve this issue and we all need to be more careful about what we flush. We continue to support Scottish Water’s ‘nature calls’ campaign highlighting the impact of inappropriately-flushed items and the damage they cause to our environment.

“We have already successfully delivered a ban on other single-use plastic products such as straws and cutlery – which also contribute to marine litter. This will deliver on a commitment made in our Marine Litter Strategy and is another important step on our journey towards a truly circular economy.”

To access the consultation, click here.