Misleading packaging blamed for 21 tonne wipes blockage in Lincoln

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UK water companies are appealing to Trading Standards to end misleading packaging after it was revealed 21 tonnes of wipes and sanitary items were flushed in Lincoln.

The news comes as blockage clearing costs in the East of England reached £15 million a year.

Anglian Water estimates around 800 tonnes of wipes and sanitary items are being flushed every week in the region, with around 21 tonnes found in Lincoln alone.

The water company is asking customers to bin troublesome wipes, rather than flushing them down the loo.

UK water companies have joined forces to ask Trading Standards to end what they call misleading ‘flushable’ claims.

A recent declaration was signed by all UK water companies and 19 other countries around the world, outlining the water industry’s position on products labelled as “flushable”.

Sanitary items and wipes have been blamed for the blocked pipes in Lincoln.

Sanitary items and wipes have been blamed for the blocked pipes in Lincoln.

The manufacturers of wipes used for host of purposes, such as cleaning and personal hygiene, claim they can be flushed and print this clearly on product packaging.

But Anglian Water argues wipes do not break down like conventional toilet paper after going down loo.

As a result, flushing them is causing sewer blockages, flooding to homes and gardens and also damaging the environment.

Rachel Dyson, Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear programme manager, said: “Wipes cause real problems in the sewer network and have a devastating impact on customers.

“Wipes are by far the worst culprit but cotton buds, tampons and fats also cause problems in the sewers.

“They result in around 80% of the 30,000 blockages across the East of England each year.

“This, along with a build up of fats and greases wrongly put down the sink after cooking, is a rapidly growing problem.

“Only the three ‘p’s should be flushed – pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

“We want customers to be given clear advice by manufacturers on how to dispose of wipes responsibly. This advice should be “do not flush”.

Sarah Mukherjee, Director of Environment at Water UK, said: “There are strong views from customers and water companies around the world that it is time for the manufacturers to take action to prevent sewer flooding.

“The financial and emotional cost of a sewer flood in your home is awful and surely it is worth taking every step possible to prevent this happening.”