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Accelerate the wet wipe ban

Leading campaigners urge Labour to make wet wipe ban reality
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Woman disinfecting hands with a wet wipe

Environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet has today (16 February) called for the Labour Party to commit to a wet wipe ban in its general election manifesto.

In October 2023, the UK government announced a consultation on banning wet wipes containing plastic across the UK, after a 2021 Call for Evidence in England revealed 96% of respondents supported a ban on wet wipes containing plastic.

But considering the Conservative Party’s growing hostility towards ‘green’ policy, there is little likelihood that a ban will be enforced before a general election.

A post-plastics economy

A Plastic Planet believes a Labour-led ban should be implemented alongside a ban on single-use plastic sachets, typically used for condiments and cosmetic samples.

Wet wipes containing plastic are a major source of pollution in waterways and marine environments, and an estimated 11 billion are sold in the UK each year.

Wipes including plastic break down into harmful microplastics that pose direct risks to human health, including disruptions to the endocrine and reproductive systems.

Wet wipes are also cited as causing 93% of sewer blockages and costing £100 million a year to clear up.

‘Banning needless plastics works because it gives industry certainty. Just look at what happened on plastic cutlery – the market moved, and alternatives quickly became the new normal.

‘I urge any future Labour government to avoid the piecemeal model of delay and avoidance that the Conservative governments of the past decade have favoured.

‘Through clear decisive action with a well-defined road map, Labour can make the UK a world leader in alternative materials and systems. A post-plastic economy is rich with opportunity, but it won’t happen without strong policy.’

SIAN SUTHERLAND
Co-founder of A Plastic Planet & Plastic Health Council

Roadmap to revolution

A ban on wet wipes should be considered as the first in a 10-year roadmap towards a plastic-free future, according to A Plastic Planet.

The ‘Reuse, Refill, Replace Revolution’ strategy was launched at the 2023 Labour Party Conference in Liverpool at an event attended by MPs and party activists.

The strategic plan outlined in the would provide industries with certainty, allowing companies time to prepare and transition towards sustainable alternatives.

In its foreword, Labour MP and former Shadow Environment Secretary Barry Gardiner stated ‘A century ago, plastic was a miracle.  Today, plastic is a menace…. This roadmap to a plastic free Britain – leading not following – is a timely blueprint for how to get there.’

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