A WATER company is backing government proposals to ban wet wipes after clearing 20,080 blockages so far this year.

Southern Water, which covers parts of Hampshire, believes that banning wet wipes will provide positive benefits for the natural environment and support consumers to make environmentally friendly choices.

Basingstoke Gazette: Southern Water is backing proposals to ban wet wipesSo far this year, Southern Water has cleared 20,080 blockages, of which nearly 40 per cent were wet wipes and period products.

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A government consultation supporting Water UK’s Bin the Wipe campaign to address the environmental and drainage impacts of flushing wet wipes came to an end on November 25.

Southern Water has backed plans to ban wet wipes in England. 

Anne-Marie McDonald, head of operational planning and improvement at Southern Water said: “Wet wipes are one of the biggest causes of blockages in sewers and wastewater treatment works.”

She added: “We welcome the government’s consultation on banning wet wipes containing plastic. The plastic in wet wipes is polluting our environment, blocks our sewers and contaminates our waterways.

“We employ teams across the south-east to tackle blocked sewers, where wet wipes are a major factor.”

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.

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Alongside fats, oils and grease, wet wipes are a frequent cause of sewer blockages, causing pollution and flooding, according to Southern Water.

Wipes marketed as flushable, which are intended to breakdown in the sewer, often shed fibres or, for those containing plastics, slowly breakdown into microplastics risking pollution to land, rivers and the sea. Southern Water has processes in place to catch and remove wet wipes from the sewer and wastewater network.

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