Today is World Water Day, an annual event organised by UN-Water, in collaboration with governments and partners, and this year the theme is ‘wastewater’.
UKIP’s Environment spokesman, Dr Julia Reid MEP, had this to say: “World Water Day is what is known as an international observance day; this an opportunity for people to learn more about water-related issues, share our knowledge and for many it’ll also be a day to take action as well.
“Given that this year’s theme is waste water, this is a perfect opportunity to inform everyone about the growing wet wipe problem.
“Wet wipes are increasingly being used as an adult hygiene product, however instead of being disposed of properly in the bin, countless millions are being flushed down the toilet.
“Unbeknown to many, the improper disposable of wet wipes desecrates our beautiful coastlines and vastly contributes to the blockage of our sewer systems.”
A survey of UK beaches conducted by the Marine Conservation Society in 2015 found that almost 50 wet wipes per kilometre of coastline. The Marine Conservation Society have also expressed that the increased use of wet wipes is wreaking havoc on the sewage system, costing the water companies and taxpayers around £88 million each year.
Dr Reid added: “Unlike toilet paper, wet wipes fail to disintegrate, this often ends up causing sewer blockages, resulting in the sewer systems needing to be shut down so that the clumps can be manually removed.
“The non-biodegradable wet wipes can take up to 100 years to disintegrate, and even the so-called “flushable” ones have shown to hold together after hours of testing, which have proven to be equally as problematic for the sewage systems”.
Wessex Water, who serve Dr Julia Reid MEP’s constituency in the South West, reported that; of the 13,000 blockages that they remove every year, around two-thirds of these are caused by wet wipes.
Another substantial issue is that many brands of wet wipes disintegrate into micro-plastics, which have been proven to transport chemicals to wildlife and to harm marine invertebrates.
As a result of these issues, Dr Julia Reid MEP, along with the water companies and environmentalists, advocate that, in order to protect the environment and save taxpayers money, only bodily waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet.