Tennis courts

Huge mass of wet wipes the size of two tennis courts found in the River Thames near Hammersmith


Wet wipes flushed down the toilet have been believed to be the cause of a massive blockage in London’s sewage system – the mountain constantly expanding. The situation got so bad that the wet wipes formed a meter-high mass the size of two tennis courts on the banks of the River Thames near Hammersmith

The problem has become such a cause for concern that the government is reportedly considering imposing a ban on certain types of wet wipes. Environment Minister Rebecca Pow recently addressed the House of Commons about the situation. She said: ‘What I would say to everyone is if you don’t need to use a wet wipe don’t, but don’t flush them down the toilet either.

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Wet wipes block a pipe near The Shard in November 2021

However, Labor MP Fleur Anderson took the issue a step further and proposed that legislation be put in place to ban plastic wet wipes. Ms Anderson has now tabled a bill to ban plastic wet wipes.

The MP described the current packaging situation as ‘very confusing to the public’ and advised the government to ‘go ahead’ with its plan to ban plastic in wet wipes, following a consultation which ended in February.

Similarly, Thames Water released a statement commenting on the situation last year. Anna Boyles, Chief Operating Officer of Thames Water, said: “We know many busy families appreciate the convenience of wet wipes, but most are made from plastic and can take centuries to biodegrade. It’s like throwing a plastic bag down the toilet.

“Some wipes are marketed as ‘flushable’. All that means is that they will disappear in the U-bend, but they are not gone for good and could end up clogging your pipes or in the river. We work hard to get manufacturers to properly label their products and, better yet, remove plastic from wipes completely. If you use standard wet wipes, please put them in the trash instead of the toilet.

“We are also working with the Government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to speed up work to prevent these unacceptable discharges of untreated sewage and sewage waste from happening in the first place.”

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