Anglers Against Pollution

Angling Trust statement on the government’s proposed ban on wet wipes containing plastic

The Angling Trust welcomes the UK Government’s announcement to introduce long overdue legislation banning the supply and sale of wet wipes containing plastic.

This decision marks significant progress in tackling the scourge of plastic pollution within our waterways, reflecting the urgent need to address environmental pollution which threatens aquatic life and water quality.

While we strongly support this initiative, as expressed during the consultation phase, we maintain that this legislation is only one small step towards addressing the broader environmental impacts of wet wipes. We wish to highlight several concerns and recommendations that need addressing to make this legislation truly effective in preserving our environment.

Continued Risk of Non-Plastic Wet Wipes: The proposed ban focuses on plastic components yet does not address the environmental and infrastructural issues caused by other types of single-use wipes, such as those made from lyocell and viscose. These materials, often labelled as biodegradable, still pose risks for blockages in our sewage systems and can persist in the environment. We urge the Government to ensure rigorous environmental impact assessments of these semi-synthetic fibres and to be prepared to extend the ban to these products if they prove harmful.

Clarification and Standardisation of Disposal Information: Current labelling standards are inadequate and often misleading, with terms like “flushable” encouraging harmful consumer behaviour. It is crucial that all wet wipe packaging includes clear, standardised instructions stating ‘do not flush’ prominently. This will help reduce the incidence of wipes entering and harming our aquatic ecosystems.

Promotion of Sustainable Alternatives: Finally, we advocate for broader systemic changes beyond banning single-use items. The introduction of this ban should coincide with efforts to promote a circular economy, emphasising the development and use of sustainable, reusable alternatives to single-use products. Government support for initiatives that increase the accessibility and affordability of reusable options is essential to reduce overall consumption and waste, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals and commitments by all devolved nations.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust commented: “True sustainability will require comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of environmental degradation. The Angling Trust is committed to working with the Government and other stakeholders to ensure that our waters and their biodiversity are protected for future generations. We look forward to continued dialogue and action that will lead to effective and sustainable management of all types of wet wipes and other similar products.”

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