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UK's Pledge to Ban Single-Use Plastics Includes Wet Wipes
In continued efforts to clamp down on plastic waste, British lawmakers are planning to ban wet wipes in the UK.
Although these "flushable" towelettes are convenient to use, they wreak havoc on the environment. That's because these sheets can contain non-biodegradable materials such as polyester and polypropylene.
"As part of our 25-year environment plan we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products that include plastic such as wet wipes," the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told MailOnline in a statement.
Wet wipes are used for cleaning up after babies, removing makeup and have become mainstays in bathrooms around the world. Industry analysts forecast the multibillion-dollar global wet tissue and wipe market to grow 7 percent annually.
However, many wet wipes are mistakenly flushed down the toilet after use. Since they do not break down, they clump and congeal with cooking grease and other discarded items, and as a result, clog the world's sewer systems. These so-called "fatbergs" are not only revolting, they clog and break pipelines, and are difficult and costly to remove. New York City officials told The New York Times that the city has spent more than $18 million from 2010-2015 on wipe-related equipment problems.
As The Guardian reported last week, wet wipe pollution has changed the shape of Britain's rivers. Thames 21, a London-based cleanup group, retrieved 5,453 wet wipes in an area next to the Thames the size of half a tennis court.
Last year, one of the largest-ever fatbergs was found in east London. It weighed 130 metric tons—the same as 11 double decker buses—and was more than twice the length of two football pitches.
Thames Water, Greater London's water utility, said it spends around £1 million a month clearing blockages from its sewers caused by items such as fat, wipes, diapers, cotton buds, sanitary products and condoms.
"That's an average of three fat related blockages and 4.8 blockages caused by items like wet wipes every hour," the utility noted.
The UK has taken major steps to fight plastic pollution in recent years, from banning microbeads to restricting plastic bag use. Last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her government is earmarking £61.4 million towards cleaning the world's oceans of plastics.
- Wet wipes clogging up London sewers - BBC News ›
- Disgusting Wads of Wet Wipes Are Clogging Sewers Across the UK ›
- Wet wipe pollution 'changing the shape of British riverbeds ... ›
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Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
By John R. Platt
For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.
Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.
Genetics are significantly more responsible for driving autism spectrum disorders than maternal factors or environmental factors such as vaccines and chemicals, according to a massive new study involving more than 2 million people from five different countries.