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Disposable Wipes

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 68109, tabled on 2 November 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to require UK manufacturers of single use wet wipes to ensure that their products are fully biodegradable.

Answered on

8 November 2021

We are considering a range of options to tackle the drain blockages and fatbergs caused by wet wipes and are working to assess the effects of wet wipes containing plastic on sewers to identify possible solutions. In general, we prefer to help people and companies make the right choice, rather than banning items outright. Alongside our upcoming consultation on single-use plastic items, we will be asking some questions about wet wipes to help us build our evidence base, inform our policy approach and take appropriate action.

The Defra guidance on making an environmental claim has been updated recently to include the Competition Markets Authority’s published guidance available here: Make an environmental claim for your product, service or organisation - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). This guidance aims to help businesses understand and comply with their existing obligations under consumer protection law when making any environmental claims.

We will continue to encourage the water industry and wet wipe manufacturers to work together to raise consumer awareness about the appropriate disposal of wet wipes and other non-flushable products, and to ensure that the labelling is clear. This will be crucial for generating meaningful behavioural change with consumers.