Wet wipes are causing many environmental problems in the UK; like changing the shape of river beds, blocking sewerage and polluting the coastal areas.
There is a 1,000-fold increase in the number of wet wipes in the waterways than last year. Thames 21, a London environmental organization that cleans up rivers and canals in London, has found more than 5,000 wet wipes just in 116 square meters of Thames.
These wet wipes are accumulating on the river beds and changing the course of rivers. The wet wipes industry is continuously expanding. Earlier, it used to produce only baby wipes but now you can get household wipes, industrial wipes, personal care wipes, specialty anti-malarial wipes and pet wipes. The industry has been expected to grow about 6-7% a year, and to expand from a $3bn international market to $4 billion by 2021, and as it grows, there will be definitely an increase in wipes pollution in the waterways around the world.
Wet wipes are generally made up of fabrics like cotton and plastic which are woven together and are non-biodegradable products, pollute the environment very severely. “People get confused and don’t realize that you are not supposed to flush wet wipes down the toilet,” said Downer.
Flushing of wet wipes down the toilet clogging and causing it to overflow. A study last year by Water UK has found that wet wipes are causing 93% of the material blockages in the country. “We want people to realize that this is not just happening on the Thames, but on rivers and canals all around the country,” said Downer.
Wet wipes are also polluting the oceans which are leading to the death of marine animals. When these wet wipes reach to the ocean, they get ingested by sea creatures, such as turtles, who eat them and eventually die.
Thames 21, a London environmental organization is working from City to Sea to raise awareness among the people about the use of non-flushable wet wipes and their bad impact on the environment.