The Defra press release highlights

  • UK-wide consultation launched to ban wet wipes containing plastic
  • Proposed ban will tackle plastic pollution in marine environment and reduce microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants
  • Proposal delivers on the UK Government’s Plan for Water, delivering more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement across the water system

consultation on banning wet wipes containing plastic across the UK has been launched today under plans to tackle plastic pollution and clean up our waterways (14 October 2023).

A key measure in the UK Government’s Plan for Water, the ban forms part of the government’s ongoing work to ensure there is more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement across the water system, helping tackle plastic and microplastic pollution and improve water quality.

Wet wipes containing plastic break down into microplastics over time, which can be harmful to the environment and human health. Banning wet wipes containing plastic would help alleviate this issue, as well as reducing the volume of microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants when wrongly flushed.

Alternatives to wet wipes containing plastic are already available, with a number of major brands removing plastic from wet wipes. Boots, Tesco and Aldi are amongst major retailers who have stopped selling wet wipes containing plastic. The ban would build on this action from retailers to make only plastic-free wet wipes available to consumers.

The plans have been set out in a joint consultation with the devolved administrations which has been launched today to seek views on banning the manufacture, supply and sale of plastic-containing wet wipes across the UK.

It recognises public calls for action to tackle plastic pollution in waterways, and widespread public support for the proposed ban. A 2021 Call for Evidence in England found that 96% of respondents supported a ban on wet wipes containing plastic.

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