UK to ban plastic from wet wipes

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Parliament

Ministers are to ban the sale of plastic-containing wet wipes in the UK.

The government said it would bring forward legislation in England before Parliament breaks up for the summer on 23 July. Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have pledged to follow suit in the autumn.

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Businesses across the UK will be given 18 months to prepare once laws are passed, and there will be exemptions for certain purposes.

A wet wipe was found for every 5 metres of beach surveyed between 2015 and 2020 according to official government data.

Microplastics from this litter can accumulate biological and chemical pollutants, increasing the risk of harm to people and animals.

Wet wipes are also often wrongly flushed down toilets and enter treatment plants.

Environment secretary Steve Barclay said: “I have been clear that a step change is needed to protect our waterways from pollution.

“This ban builds on a raft of actions already taken to protect our waterways and hold water companies accountable – including accelerating investment, putting water company fines back into the environment and quadrupling the number of inspections of water company sites.”