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Joining Scottish Water's call to ban wipes

We are proud to support the major new campaign from Scottish Water seeking to help protect the environment as they urge Scotland to bin all wipes – and ban wipes containing plastic.

Scottish Water outline the damage that flushing wipes down the toilet can do, including causing pollution, sewer blockages and flooding.

It is also calling on governments north and south of the border to work together to ban wipes made with plastic, items that are making their way to our oceans and causing real danger to marine wildlife. In the UK it is estimated that 11 billion wipes are used every year, 90 per cent of those contain plastic, which when broken down leads to microplastic in the environment.

Since the launch of the campaign support has been shown on social media - we are just one of a range of organisations that back the campaign, including the Marine Conservation Society 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.”

Keep Scotland Beautiful Chief Executive Barry Fisher said: “I’m delighted to see Scottish Water highlighting this important issue, encouraging everyone to be more conscious of the environmental impact of plastic wipes. We want doing the right thing for our environment to be easy and possible for everyone – including manufacturers finding affordable alternatives to plastic free wipes. This will make sure that industry contributes to the future without wipes that clog up our waterways and oceans, harming wildlife and permanently changing our environment.

“Scotland is facing a climate and litter emergency, so action to find affordable solutions to plastic free wipes is needed to protect the future of our country. This campaign will help industry and individuals to understand that their actions can and do make a difference.”

The Nature Calls campaign will feature adverts on multiple channels through February and March. Find out more at www.jointhewave.scot.

We, like Scottish Water, will be submitting our response to the Scottish Government’s Marine Litter Strategy consultation (open until 22 March). Make sure your voice is heard and have your say on how Marine Litter should be tackled.

23 February 2022

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