UK to ban the sale of wet wipes containing plastic

THE supply and sale of wet wipes containing plastic is to be banned across the UK after a public consultation found that 95% of respondents agreed with the plans.

Measures have now been set out in a joint response by all four UK nations today, which includes a transition period for all businesses to help them to prepare.

The Scottish Government said that it will introduce regulations by the end of 2024 with the ban due to come into force 18 months later.

Minister for green skills, circular economy, and biodiversity, Lorna Slater, said, “I am delighted to confirm today that the Scottish Government will ban wet wipes containing plastic.

“These items are a problematic source of marine litter and are a threat to the health of our environment and wildlife. This ban delivers on an important commitment made in our marine litter strategy and builds on previous actions to ban unnecessary single-use plastic items such as plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic straws and cutlery.

“These policies are all proof of the progress Scotland is making toward protecting our environment, and all contribute to our journey toward a circular economy.”

Trade association for the nonwovens industry, EDANA, which represents wet wipes manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble and Essity, said it looks forward to working with the governments on the implementation of the plans.

Gloria Jaconelli, EDANA’s communication and PR director, commented, Reducing plastic in the environment is an extremely important goal and this needs to be done whilst also ensuring that parents, carers, businesses, and the NHS can continue to make use of the valuable functions that wet wipes provide regarding hygiene, anti-viral qualities post-Covid-19, helping with care, parenting, and industrial processes.

“Reducing plastic also needs to be done in a way that achieves its environmental objective while avoiding unnecessary UK manufacturing job losses in communities across the UK, which in turn could lead to loss of investment, competitiveness, and innovation.

“In recent years, the UK wet wipes industry has made considerable progress in reducing plastic in consumer wipes, and over half of consumer wet wipes on the market in the UK today are already plastic-free. The four governments in the UK have taken a considered approach and the proposals set out will build on these efforts. We look forward to working with the four governments on the implementation and next steps for plastic-free consumer wet wipes in the UK. In the meantime, we welcome the fact that the proposals enable the continued use of the vital functions that wet wipes provide and will allow the industry to continue to innovate and operate without unnecessary job losses and investment in the UK market.

“Building on the major steps that have already been taken towards this, EDANA member companies operating in the UK will move forward to deliver plastic-free consumer wet wipes in compliance with any new Government regulations and in line with the timelines proposed.