SOUTHERN Water has announced it is backing the Government’s consultation on banning wet wipes.

Views on the manufacture, sale and supply of wet wipes containing plastics can be provided until Saturday, November 25.

The water provider believes that the ban of wet wipes will provide positive benefits for the environment and support consumers to make environmentally sustainable choices.

Hampshire Chronicle: Wet wipes can cause pipe blockages like theseWet wipes can cause pipe blockages like these (Image: Southern Water)READ MORE: Hampshire councils express 'major concerns' about sewage in rivers

So far this year Southern Water has cleared 20,080 blockages, of which nearly 40 per cent were wet wipes and sanitary items. Wet wipes and moist wipe products, such as moist toilet tissue, are used for a range of hygiene and other purposes but can cause problems for the environment.

Most wet wipes do not break down in water and are often disposed of incorrectly. Alongside fats, oils, grease, wet wipes are a frequent cause of sewer blockages, causing pollution and flooding.

Wipes marketed as flushable, which are intended to break down in the sewer, often shed fibres or, for those containing plastics, slowly break down into microplastics risking pollution to land, rivers and the sea. 

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Anne-Marie McDonald, head of operational planning and improvement at Southern Water, said: “We welcome the Government’s consultation on banning wet wipes containing plastic. The plastic in wet wipes is polluting our environment, blocking our sewers and contaminating our waterways. We employ teams across the Southeast to tackle blocked sewers, where wet wipes are a major factor. Wet wipes are one of the biggest causes of blockages in sewers and at wastewater treatment works.”

Southern Water has invested in and have processes in place to catch and remove wet wipes from the sewer and wastewater network.

Over a recent eight-month period, the company has removed more than 6,000 tonnes of debris from the screening systems at wastewater treatment works, a large proportion of which was made of, or contained, wet wipes and other plastic-containing items.