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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Call for wet wipes to have 'mandatory warnings' because of their damage to environment

The wipes contain plastic and can clog up sewers and cluster on beaches.

MORE MUST BE done by manufacturers to ensure wet wipes do not continue to be among the worst marine pollutants, according an Irish MEP who has called for mandatory warnings on the products. 

Deirdre Clune MEP has expressed particular concern that some wet wipes continue to be labelled as “flushable” despite the damage they can do to the environment. 

Wet wipes have been identified by Water UK as causing 93% of blockages in UK sewers, and a key element of the notorious fatbergs that often create giant obstacles underground.

Irish environmental group Coastwatch has also pointed to ”long ropes” of wet wipes ending up on Irish coastlines. 

The government last year stated that it had no plans for an outright ban on wet wipes but the European Commission has listed the products among the single-use plastics that will come under specific rules. 

Among the rules are that manufacturers of wet wipes will be required to help cover the cost of clean-up and that labels should clearly state how they should be disposed of. 

The commission further stated that the labelling should provide information on the negative environmental impact of the products.

Clune argues that this should go further and that labels should contain a warning to consumers.

“I believe some manufacturers have made efforts to improve the packaging of non-flushable wipes and highlighting that people should not flush them. However, some packaging still states that wipes as ‘flushable” and this has to be addressed,” the MEP said.

“It is very important that people do not flush wet wipes down the toilet. The wipes contain plastic and they are doing extreme damage to the environment.”

The Irish government has said it supports the EU’s move against single-use plastics, saying 2019 is the year it will ‘wage a war’ on them.

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