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  • by Karma Loveday

Wet wipes escape government’s latest single-use plastic ban

Wet wipes containing plastic have not been included in the latest Government action to tackle plastic pollution.

On Saturday, environment secretary Thérèse Coffey announced a ban from October 2023 on a range of single-use plastic items, including plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.

Defra said England uses 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery — most of which are plastic — and 721 million single-use plates per year, but only 10% are recycled. It added that 95% of respondents to its consultation were in favour of banning these items.

However, regarding other problematic plastic items including wet wipes, the Government only said it was “carefully considering further measures”. It noted: “Future steps that could be explored include banning plastic in these items, and mandatory labelling on packaging to help consumers dispose of these items correctly. A new research project will also look into the impact of wet wipes on blockages in the sewage system, and will inform any future policy actions.”

The latest ban follows: a ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products in 2018; restrictions on the supply of single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds in 2020; the April 2022 Plastic Packaging Tax – a tax of £200 per tonne on plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic; and the 10p single-use carrier bag charge.


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