BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 10 Sep '17

A monster made from wet wipes is heading to the Thames

Today (Sunday 10 September), a huge inflatable monster made out of wet wipes will be taken to TideFest – the riverside event celebrating the recreational importance of the Thames Tideway to Londoners.

The monster, ’Wallace’, was created by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) after research from the charity found 83% of the UK public would like to see the word ‘flushable’ removed from all wet wipe packaging if the wipes didn’t meet water industry standards for what can be safely flushed down the toilet without causing blockages.

‘stop misleading the public’

MCS says that the number of wet wipes found on UK beaches have increased by almost 700% over the last decade. The little squares are commonly used in the bathroom to remove makeup, clean up babies’ bottoms and wipe toilet seats – once used they’re then often, mistakenly, popped down the pan and flushed.

MCS has been touring Wallace around coastal resorts over the past year to help explain to the public the financial and environmental cost of putting the wrong stuff down the loo. The bespoke art installation, made out of wet wipes, inflates from a very small pile of wipes on the sand to a monster that’s 8m wide and 3.5m tall.

‘We’ve been campaigning for retailers to stop misleading the public by labelling wet wipes as flushable, because they’re known to be failing the water industry standard for what can be safely flushed. So far no wet wipes have passed this ‘flushability’ test and that’s why we will be asking everyone at TideFest to remember that all wet wipes belong in the bin.’

DR LAURA FOSTER
MCS head of pollution

Do not flush!

Thames Water, which is funding Wallace’s appearance at TideFest, has 108,000km of sewers and spends £1m a month clearing blockages from them.

‘Wipes, often labelled ‘flushable’, are a massive issue for us. They may disappear when you flush the toilet, but they don’t break down in the sewer pipes. We’re lobbying manufacturers, government and retailers to correctly label the wipes as ‘unflushable’ and to change what they’re made from, but in the meantime we need everyone to put a bin in their bathroom and stop flushing them. We hope seeing Wallace at TideFest will really help to support our ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ message.’

MATT RIMMER
Thames Water’s head of sewer networks

MCS will be collecting signatures at TideFest asking manufacturers for clearer labelling on wet wipes. The petition will be handed to Edana – the wet wipe industry trade body.

MCS hopes the support will show that members of the public want flushable to mean just that – safe to flush without causing problems to our sewers. If it’s not safe then advice to flush should be removed and replaced with a clear ‘Do Not Flush’ on the front of the pack.