The UK’s leading marine charity and the water company that supplies Cornwall are joining forces to highlight the huge problems created by flushing wet wipes down the loo—with the help of a giant monster made out of wipes!
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is bringing Wallace the Wet Wipe Monster to Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth on Thursday 8th September for a joint event with South West Water.
Wallace will be the centrepiece of a day aimed at helping the public understand the financial and environmental cost of putting the wrong stuff down the loo! Created by Designs in Air, based in Bristol, Wallace is over 3m tall and 8m wide.
MCS say that the number of wet wipes found on UK beaches have increased by 400% over the last decade and there are now about 50 of the little squares found on every kilometre of coastline cleaned by the charity’s volunteers during just one weekend.
Wet wipes are one of the great convenience products of the 21st century—we can’t get enough of them—baby wipes, hygiene wipes, moist toilet tissue, cleaning wipes – our bathrooms are full of them. But instead of ending up in the bin when they’re finished with—many end up being popped down the loo. It’s not just the ones that we know shouldn’t be flushed that are causing the problems, but also those described as flushable or dispersible (in the case of moist toilet tissue). Water companies, like South West Water, are finding that, when flushed, these result in blockages because they don’t meet the water industry standard allowing them to be flushed.
South West Water says it costs them, and their customers, £4.5million each year to clear around 8,500 blockages in their sewerage network—about 65% of which are caused by wipes and other sanitary products being flushed down the toilet.
Last August, South West Water launched its Love Your Loo campaign to encourage customers only to flush the 3Ps—pee, paper and poo. Earlier this year MCS launched its Wet Wipes Turn Nasty When You Flush Them campaign to highlight the issue and encourage people to sign the charity’s petition for clearer labelling on all wipes packaging.
Laura Foster, MCS Head of Pollution says blockages can be expensive and cause a great deal of inconvenience to households but are completely avoidable: ‘Wallace, our wet wipe monster, is a great way to engage with people about what happens when wet wipes are flushed. We want retailers to remove any “flushable” labelling from their packaging so customers have the right information in their hands and become “binners” not “flushers” and only flush the 3Ps down the loo!’
Andy Willicott, Director of Operations (Waste Water) at South West Water, says wet wipes clog up pipes and affect the service to customers: ‘To combat this we’re pleased to team up with MCS to encourage more people to change their behaviours and only flush the 3Ps. We’re also working closely with the rest of the industry to persuade retailers and manufacturers to label their products responsibly so that our customers aren’t confused and our drains don’t get blocked.’
To find out more about the problems wet wipes cause, come and meet Wallace and his handlers from MCS and South West Water at Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth Cornwall on Thursday 8th September from 11am—4pm.