The Concern Over Wipes Continues to Build in Europe


Two representatives from EurEau, the voice of Europe’s drinking water and wastewater service operators, Oliver Loebel and Maxime Bineau, discuss the growing concern with plastics polluting the water supply and the problem wipes serve in the debacle.

“The SUP [Single Use Plastics] Directive proposed by the European Commission is an opportunity to mitigate marine plastic pollution, and improve the general state of our environment. While this goal is laudable, effective measures are also needed to prevent another kind of insidious pollution, closer to the European consumer.”

The article goes on to challenge the Directive as it points out its flaws in failing to combat a major source of plastics in the water – “flushable” wet wipes: “The SUP Directive fails to tackle the impact of some SUP on our waste water infrastructure. Some plastics can find their way through water pipes through user behaviour or inappropriate labelling by manufacturers.”

Loebel and Bineau point out the fact that many manufacturers falsely advertise wet wipes as “flushable”, when in reality the majority of the products contain plastic fibers to help them resist breakdown in aqueous solutions. In fact, in the UK, 75% of identifiable pipe-clogging material was found to be from wet wipes alone. The authors also bring up an important point – even if wipes were indeed able to break down once flushed, they would still pose a significant threat to marine life and human health- “If wet wipes really were to decompose as claimed by manufacturers, they would release a substantial amount of micro-plastics into waste water, contaminating sewage sludge or worse, be emitted directly into the environment.”

Read the full article here.