Oldham opposed to wet wipe ban

Date published: 02 August 2018

The majority of people in Oldham would not support the proposed government ban on disposable wipes – despite most agreeing that we need to do more to educate people on the dangers of fatbergs.

It follows research by Lanes Group plc that 59 per cent of people in the country disagree with a ban, while 93 per cent want to see more education measure in place.

Fatbergs are formed when non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes, sanitary products and nappies are flushed down toilets and combine with fats, oil and grease (FOG) to create vast masses that are blocking the nation’s sewers.

The survey of more than 1,000 people discovered that 47 per cent of people admit to pouring FOG from cooking down the kitchen sink. 31 per cent of people have flushed wet wipes down the toilet and 32 per cent of people have flushed kitchen roll down the toilet, which does not disintegrate in the same way as toilet paper.

In spite of these habits, some 75 per cent of people said they were either ‘quite aware’ or ‘very aware’ of the dangers of pouring FOG down the drain.

Baby wipes and antibacterial household wipes are the most common types of disposable wipes in British households, used by 44 per cent and 52 per cent of people respectively.

59 per cent of people said they would not support the proposed government blanket ban on the sale of disposable wipes, which was suggested in May this year.

The most common reason for this was that ‘there is nothing wrong with wipes, as long as people dispose of them correctly’, a sentiment that 43 per cent of those opposed to the ban agreed with.

Among those who were in favour of a government ban on disposable wipes, cleaning wipes and toilet tissue-style wipes were the most commonly selected as the types of wipes they would be in favour of banning.

Baby wipes were the least likely to be selected, with just 15 per cent of respondents in favour of the government banning baby wipes.

41 per cent of those in favour of a ban said their main reason was that wipes are part of a ‘disposable culture’ that is bad for the environment.

Michelle Ringland, Head of Marketing at Lanes for Drains, said: “Disposable wipes should never ever be flushed down the toilet, even if they say ‘flushable’ on the packaging.

“The vast majority of them do not biodegrade easily and are usually made from polyester, containing millions of microfibers that are impregnated with chemicals.

“Not only are these making their way into our sewers and creating fatbergs like the 130-tonne ‘monster’ we helped to excavate in Whitechapel, they are also entering the nation’s waterways and clogging up riverbeds.

“The only thing that is safe to flush down the toilet or sink is one of the ‘three Ps’; pee, poo and toilet paper; everything else must go in the bin. It’s great to see the British public clearly want to do something about the problems in our sewers, with 93 per cent in favour of more education, but many are getting mixed messages on where to begin.”

Research from Water UK revealed that wipes make up around 93 per cent of the material in sewer blockages and are estimated to cause around 300,000 blockages every year, at a cost of £100 million to the country.