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UK plan for wipes ban raises concerns

Key concerns are what is defined as ‘plastic’ and the timeframe involved.


Innovation in Textiles
|United Kingdom


The UK Government has launched a consultation on banning wet wipes containing plastic across the UK, as part of its wider Plan for Water.

The plan is raising concerns from manufacturers and has prompted a statement from EDANA, the Brussels-based association for European nonwovens and absorbent hygiene product manufacturers.

是政府的立场t wet wipes containing plastic break down into microplastics over time, which can be harmful to the environment and human health. Banning them would alleviate this issue, as well as reducing the volume of microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants when wrongly flushed.

Alternatives are already available, with a number of major brands removing plastic from wet wipes. Boots, Tesco and Aldi are amongst major retailers who have stopped selling wet wipes containing plastic. The ban would build on this action from retailers to make only plastic-free wet wipes available to consumers.

包含塑料是不必要的和“湿巾are polluting our environment,” said the UK’s environment secretary Thérèse Coffey. “Today’s plan shows we will continue to tackle plastic pollution in our waterways, building on banning microbeads in personal care products and taking billions of plastic bags out of circulation.”

A key concern for EDANA and the nonwovens industry is what is defined as ‘plastic’, as well as the timeframe for implementation of the ban.

“The industry supports government and stakeholder efforts to reduce pollution and sewer blockages, while ensuring that consumers, the NHS, social care, and businesses can continue to benefit from the fundamental uses and advantages that wet wipes provide,” said Gloria Jaconelli, EDANA’s communications and PR director. “For consumers to be able to continue to benefit from plastic-free wet wipes, natural polymers like viscose and lyocell – which are made from plants – must not be included in the ban. There are no other polymers that can be used to create wet wipes.

“Sufficient time for the industry to adapt to 100% plastic-free alternatives for consumer wet wipes is also needed, as well as the time to sell existing stocks to avoid the unnecessary waste and environmental impact if unsold items need to be destroyed because they no longer comply with regulations. Moving too fast risks excessive costs for businesses and higher imports, as well as challenges with continuity of supply, cost and unnecessary waste.”

She observed that the European Union has chosen to tackle the issue in a different way, through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes.

“UK manufacturers should continue to be able to manufacture plastic-containing consumer wipes solely for export to these markets, to protect UK jobs and investment. Any proposed restrictions on plastic in consumer wet wipes must also be introduced at the same time across the whole of the United Kingdom. An ‘England Only’ approach either to regulation or the timing of implementation would lead to a situation where English manufacturers cannot sell the wet wipes in England, but Scottish and Welsh manufacturers can. It is perfectly possible to adopt a UK wide approach to both regulation and implementation and that is a far better approach for all stakeholders.”

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