Wet wipes containing plastic could be banned as part of proposals to tackle plastic and microplastic pollution.
The consultation, which is being undertaken by all four UK nations, seeks views on a proposed ban on the manufacture, supply and sale of plastic-containing wet wipes across the UK.
Wet wipes containing plastic break down into microplastics over time, which can be harmful to the environment and human health. Banning these products would help alleviate this issue, as well as reducing the volume of microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants when wrongly flushed.
Wet wipes contribute to up to 94% of sewer blockages, which can lead to damage to properties and can result in sewage-related litter entering the environment.
The consultation comes in response to public calls for action to tackle plastic pollution in waterways, and widespread support for the proposed ban.
The Scottish Government’s consultation on a ban for single-use plastics products found most respondents supported action on wet wipes containing plastic, including a potential ban.
Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:
“This is very welcome progress towards a goal we all want to achieve: tackling plastic pollution. Wet wipes containing plastic are an avoidable and yet a growing source of beach litter. They are unsightly; they pose risks to the environment and wildlife; and annually they contribute to around 36,000 sewer system blockages in Scotland, risking flooding and costing approximately £7 million to clear.
“This is only the first step: legislation alone cannot solve this issue and we all need to be more careful about what we flush. We continue to support Scottish Water’s ‘Nature Calls’ campaign highlighting the impact of inappropriately-flushed items and the damage they cause to our environment.
“We have already successfully delivered a ban on other single-use plastic products such as straws and cutlery – which also contribute to marine litter. This will deliver on a commitment made in our Marine Litter Strategy and is another important step on our journey towards a truly circular economy.”
The consultation will run until 25th November 2023.