Closed petition Ban the sale of plastic wet wipes; affordable alternatives are widely available

Government should ban the sale of baby and personal care wipes containing plastic in the UK by April 2022. Following DEFRA’s ban on single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers, wet wipes containing plastic should also be phased out and replaced with plastic-free, sustainable alternatives.

More details

90% of the 11bn wipes sold in the UK contain plastic. They take 100+ years to degrade, leaving microplastics. Single-use plastic wipes are also behind 93% of sewer-clogging fatbergs, costing the taxpayer millions of pounds annually, and are the third most common marine litter item in the UK. Microplastic filters into our food chain and has even been found inside human placentas, potentially causing foetal damage. Government intervention is needed to drive forward change that is happening too slowly.

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Other parliamentary business

Rivers are at risk from a “chemical cocktail” of sewage, slurry and plastic, say MPs

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have published a report on water quality in rivers, which calls on the Government to ban the use of plastic in wet wipes and other single-use hygiene products.

Read an interactive summary of the report: https://ukparliament.shorthandstories.com/river-water-quality/index.html

Read the full report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5802/cmselect/cmenvaud/74/summary.html

In the report, the Committee said that poor water quality in English rivers is a result of underinvestment and failures in monitoring, governance, and enforcement of regulations. Not a single river in England has received a clean bill of health for chemical contamination.

The Committee also called on the Government to:

• Extend the number of substances the Environment Agency monitors in rivers.

• Review self-monitoring by water companies. Water companies appear to be dumping untreated or partially treated sewage in rivers regularly, often breaching the terms of permits that only allow this in exceptional circumstances.

• Actively encourage the designation of at least one widely-used stretch of river for bathing in each water company area by 2025.

What happens next?

The Government now must respond to the Committee's report, which was published on 13 January 2022, within two months. The Committee will publish the Government’s response here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/62/environmental-audit-committee/.

What is the Environmental Audit Committee?

The Environmental Audit Committee is a cross-party group of non-Government MPs who look into how Government policies and departments contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development.

Find out more about the Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/62/environmental-audit-committee/

Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates on its work: https://twitter.com/CommonsEAC