MCS backs calls to end inappropriate marketing and labelling of 'flushable' products

Date posted: 25 October 2016

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has been leading calls for changes in the wet wipes labelled as ‘flushable’ and has been driving collaboration on this issue.

The Trading Standards complaint letter on so-called ‘flushable’ wet wipes (including ‘moist toilet tissue’ ‘dispersible’ or any other wipes which customers are instructed to dispose of down the toilet) is evidence of just how bad the situation has become for water companies.
While some wipes are labelled as ‘flushable’ they are failing to adhere to the guidelines set out by water companies internationally (and backed by NGOs globally). MCS’s 2015 annual September beach clean found nearly 50 wet wipes per km of coastline, a rise of 400% over the last decade. This reflects the increase use of wet wipes being sold, but it is putting great pressure on our sewage system. In the UK, 50-80% of all blockages are caused by wet wipes and other unflushable items together with fats, oils and grease (FOGs), costing water companies and tax payers £88 million to clean up the problem.

The submission of the Trading Standards letter is an unprecedented action by water companies to press for change.

In the last 6 months, since MCS began its campaign we have seen a real coming together of water companies and other organisations on this issue.

We are absolutely delighted that this strong message is going out from the water companies alongside other members of the 21st century drainage board, including charities such as the Marine Conservation Society.

Dr. Laura Foster, Head of Pollution at MCS said “When we talk to people about the campaign, they are genuinely shocked that something which could clog up their pipes and drains is being labelled as flushable. If customers are being told to flush it down the toilet, they expect it to be suitable for drain and sewer systems and not to cause harm to marine life. Harm is casued as these products contain plastics or other non-biodegradable materials. We advise people only to flush the three Ps: pee, poo and paper.”

MCS, as part of its wet wipe turns nasty campaign has been collecting petition signatures calling for changes to labelling.

The public, can show their support by signing our petition:

We will be forwarding the petition to Trading Standards shortly, providing further evidence that there is customer confusion on labelling and that flushable should mean a product is safe to flush and does not cause harm to the marine environment.


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