Wet ‘island-forming’ wipes across UK after rinsing | Plastics
Wet wipes containing plastic form ‘islands’ across the UK after being rinsed, rivers changing shape after products accumulate on their shores, MPs heard as legislation to ban them. sale had its first reading in the House of Commons.
Labor MP Fleur Anderson’s Plastics (Wet Wipes) Bill would ban the manufacture and sale of wet wipes containing plastic if it were to pass Parliament and receive Royal Assent.
However, as a private member’s bill, it is unlikely to become law without government backing, although Downing Street has indicated it is determined to end ‘throwaway culture’.
During the first reading, MEPs learned that the UK must ban wet wipes containing plastic because the scale of the problem caused by their rinsing “is so great, so damaging and increasing so rapidly”.
They have also heard that marine animals are dying, while Britons may be eating “the equivalent of a plastic credit card” because of shards of microplastic from discarded hygiene products.
âAs a mother of four, I have used a lot of wet wipes and fully understand the pressures parents are under and how useful wet wipes are,â Anderson said.
“I know parents want to do the right thing for the environment too.”
But she added that 90% of the 11 billion wet wipes used in the UK each year contain some form of plastic which, when broken down, turns into microplastics that can be ingested by wildlife and enter the food chain and l ‘water supply.
She added that the problem was growing, the Great British Beach Clean would have seen an increase from 1.7 wet wipes per 100m of beach on average to 18 wet wipes between 2005 and 2020.
Anderson told Commons: âWhen these plastics enter our local marine environment and our water systems in such large volumes, the damage is absolutely devastating. Worldwide, 100 million animals die each year from plastic waste alone. “
She also cited data from the World Wildlife Fund, which suggested that people eat about five grams of plastic per week, which she described as “literally eating the equivalent of a plastic credit card each week.” claiming that the wet wipes were a “huge cause of this”. .
The MP spoke of a recent visit to the Thames where huge piles of wet wipes on the banks of the river had changed its flow, and even described seeing an “island of wet wipes” in the river.
Brands such as Holland & Barrett and The Body Shop had previously committed to selling only plastic-free wipes, which are typically made from bamboo or other plant fibers, Anderson said.
She said “larger-scale production” of plastic-free wipes could be encouraged by the ban, making the alternative cheaper.
âWe need legislation because the scale of the problem is so big, so damaging and growing so rapidly,â Anderson said.
The bill will be reconsidered on Friday, November 19.
A spokesperson for No 10 said the 25-year environmental plan sets out “a commitment to eliminate preventable plastic waste.”