Government to ban plastic wet wipes in England as part of new plan to secure water supply
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In its Plan for Water, the government has said it wants to see more investment from water companies, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement for those who pollute. The Plan for Water also includes a consultation on a ban on plastic in wet wipes and restrictions on polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foam, textiles, cleaning products, paints and varnishes.
When flushed down a toilet, a plastic wet wipe can cause serious damage to sewers and aquatic life. The wipes don’t break down and end up as foundation for enormous fatbergs that can be difficult to remove.
Plastic wet wipes often end up in rivers and can be toxic to aquatic life, while even ‘flushable’ wet wipes often are only slightly better, according to the World Wildlife Federation. Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said on Saturday that water companies could face unlimited penalties for dumping sewage, which would be reinvested into a new Water Restoration Fund.
Ms Coffey said: “Our rare chalk streams and world-famous coastlines, lakes and rivers are hugely important to local communities and to nature. I completely understand the concerns that people have about the health and resilience of our waters, which is why I am setting out this plan for a truly national effort to protect and improve them.
“That includes higher penalties taken from water company profits which will be channelled back into the rivers, lakes and streams where it is needed."