In 2017, a fatberg was found in the sewer systems of East London stretching the length of two football pitches, with a lot of the fatberg being made up of plastic waste.
As there is more and more focus on the amount of plastic waste we produce, we thought it would be interesting to find out what shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet.
1. Wet Wipes
These are often thought to be a similar material to toilet paper – but the majority of wet wipes contain plastic and don’t break down. It is thought that wet wipes are responsible for over 90% of the blockages in the UK sewer systems and cost £100 million every year!
Supermarkets have started phasing out plastic from their wipes – but we can all do our bit by just putting them in the bin!
2. Sanitary Products
In the UK alone, it is thought we dispose of 4.3 billion sanitary products each year – That is a lot of plastic waste!
Plastic applicators can be found on our beaches in their thousands and the average pad contains about the same amount of slow-to-degrade plastic as 4 carrier bags!
The cost to the UK is £88 million each year to clear these products from our sewerage systems.
3. Contact Lenses
Over 4 million people in UK wear contact lenses – and is thought 1 in 5 wearers dispose of them down the sink or toilet instead of in a waste bin.
These are adding to the amount of plastic pollution found in our rivers & oceans. Contact lenses are small and they break down into microplastics which can be consumed by aquatic organisms – aquatic organisms that are part of a long foodchain.
Think twice about flushing them – they could end up on the dinner table!
4. Cotton Buds
Plastics, including cotton buds, have been found in the stomach of turtles, seabirds and many species of fish. This may be reduced soon as far as cotton buds are concerned though.
Following a switch from plastic to paper sticks from market leader Johnson’s®, supermarkets in the UK have followed suit by phasing out plastic cotton buds with the majority of them changing by the end of 2017.
So next time you are going for your weekly shop, take a look at the 100% paper stick cotton buds. But remember, if you do still use the old plastic cotton buds, put them in the bin!
5. Condoms & Wrappers
It isn’t a topic anyone wants to talk about – but it is a serious one.
We may think it is the most discreet way to get rid of them – but that is only if it doesn’t get stuck in the flushing mechanism!
Honestly, the amount of condoms and wrappers that make it into our sewerage system is staggering. Stop it.