Wet wipes could see themselves wiped out of the British market as the UK government plans to eliminate single-use products, according to the BBC.
The government has said that its plan to eliminate plastic waste “includes single-use products like wet wipes”.
Wet wipes contain non-biodegradable plastics, which means manufacturers will have to develop a plastic-free alternative or the product will be removed from the markets altogether.
According to Water UK, wet wipes are responsible for 93% of blockages in UK sewers, referred to as 'fatbergs'. The trade body representing UK water and sewerage companies also said that over 5,000 wet wipes were recovered from 116 square metres of the Thames this April alone.
A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said, “We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure labelling on the packaging is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly.”
Defra added that it is also "encouraging innovation so that more and more of these products can be recycled and are working with industry to support the development of alternatives, such as a wet-wipe product that does not contain plastic and can, therefore, be flushed".
The BBC reported that Jeremy Freedman, managing director of Guardpack, has written to his MP to say banning them would be environmentally disastrous.
"These wipes are biodegradable, take 3ml of liquid on average. If they weren't able to use these, they would need to wash their hands, using on average one litre of water.
"They are also widely used in the medical industry and, for people with incontinence and disabled people, these wipes are critical to their lifestyle."
He said while his wipes are 100% biodegradable materials, they were under no circumstances flushable - which wet wipes are often advertised as.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Aidan O'Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.