Wet wipe litter rises by 50%

April 2nd, 2015 Category: Local Authority & Housing

The number of wet wipes on UK beaches has risen by as much as 50 per cent, new research found.

A report published by Marine Conservation Society (MCS) revealed that there was a 6.4 per cent rise in beach litter between 2013 and 2014.

Its Great British Beach Clean report highlighted a rising trend in people generally dropping rubbish on UK shores over 20 years.

The increase in the number of wipes on beaches between 2013 and 2014, equates to about 35 of the little squares on every kilometre of coastline cleaned by volunteers.

Around 5,349 volunteers were recruited to clean and survey over 300 beaches. 

In addition, 2,457 bits of litter were collected for every kilometre cleaned and surveyed in 2014 compared to 2,309 in 2013.

Speaking about the findings, Charlotte Coombes, MCS beach watch officer, said: "Our sewerage systems weren't built to cope with wet wipes. When flushed they don't disintegrate like toilet paper, and they typically contain plastic so once they reach the sea, they last for a very long time.

"They can cause blockages in our sewers, and then, everything else that has been flushed down the loo can either back up into people's homes, or overflow into rivers and seas. Overflows also happen during excessive rainfall or if the plumbing hasn't been connected up properly, meaning the wrong pipes head straight to the sea."

 MCS claimed that a number of British water companies have already reported the problem, while Southern Water said wet wipes were "causing havoc" with sewers in Kent.

The charity called for a National Marine Litter Action Plan to address the causes of litter on British beaches.

It added that new measures need to be taken to tackle the issue.