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  • Wet wipes found in 93% of sewer blockages

    New research has shown that wet wipes are a factor in 93% of sewer blockages in the UK, including the Wessex Water region.

    The biggest ever in-depth investigation of blockages, carried out by Water UK's 21 st Century Drainage Programme, has again lifted the lid on the misery and financial hardship suffered by households when wipes are wrongly flushed down toilets.

    Tidworth wet wipes

    We're called to resolve around 13,000 blockages every year, a huge proportion of which could have been prevented if wet wipes - even those marked "flushable" - had been binned rather than flushed.

    The new nationwide study of 54 blockages found that around 93% of the material responsible was made up of wipes, including a high proportion of baby wipes which are not designed to be flushed.

    Less than 1% of the domestic waste in the blockages was identified as made up of products which are suitable for flushing, such as toilet paper.

    Last year we sent a report to the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards, calling for clearer Do Not Flush labelling on wipes and highlighting how they don't break down like regular toilet paper after going down the U-bend. 

    The latest jointly-funded research by water companies, Defra and EDANA (European Disposables and Nonwovens Association) shows how more needs to be done to help encourage individuals to stop using the toilet as a bin.

    Luke Beattie, Wessex Water's divisional waste manager, said: "This study proves beyond doubt that wipes are the main cause of sewer blockages, and that means it's a problem we can all do something about.

    "We put a lot of time and investment into our sewerage system but it's just not designed to handle things like baby wipes which don't break down in water.

    "The good news is that, by taking action, we can stop the misery people face when their homes are flooded with raw sewage. The simplest action is to only ever flush the three Ps - paper, poo and pee."


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