Wet wipe litter blighting Britain's beaches: survey

March 19, 2015
The number of wet wipes found washed up on British beaches has soared 50%

British people have been urged to stop flushing wet wipes down the toilet after a 50 percent surge in the number found in a beach survey.

The total of wet wipes collected in the Marine Conservation Society's annual Great British Beach Clean was up by half in 2014, with the survey revealing a 6.4 percent rise in overall beach litter.

More than 300 beaches around the UK were cleaned and surveyed by 5,349 volunteers last September, with 2,457 pieces of litter collected for every kilometre of coastline cleaned—up from an average of 2,309 in 2013.

The most commonly collected type of rubbish was bits of plastic, with 11 percent of overall litter related to commercial and recreational fishing.

An average of 35 wet wipes were found for every kilometre of cleaned in 2014, up from 23 the previous year, the society said.

MCS beachwatch officer Charlotte Coombes said the UK's sewers are not built to cope with wet wipes, which are also a scourge elsewhere in the world.

"When flushed they don't disintegrate like , and they typically contain plastic so once they reach the sea, they last for a very long time.

"They can cause blockages in our sewers and then everything else that has been flushed down the loo can either back up into people's homes, or overflow into rivers and seas."

The Great British Beach Clean showed overall beach litter was up by 6.4 percent in 2014

The charity is calling for a national marine litter action plan.

Measures could include a national deposit scheme to pay people for returning drinks bottles and cans and better recycling or disposal facilities for fishermen, the MCS said.

Explore further: Romanian city opens plastic bottle bridge in litter protest

Related Stories

Litter now everywhere in the ocean

July 8, 2014

Litter is now found in even the most remote areas of the oceans, say scientists trying to understand how much rubbish is lying at the bottom of Europe's seas.

Citizen scientists take on problem of Pacific plastics

August 11, 2014

In the classic 1967 movie, The Graduate, a newly minted college graduate played by Dustin Hoffman is told by an older friend that the future would be guided by "one word: plastics." Although the older man's prediction did ...

Recommended for you

Top nitrogen researchers imagine world beyond fossil fuels

May 25, 2018

Freeways choked with traffic, supermarkets laden with fertilizer-grown stock from distance fields and virtually everything we touch derived from petroleum-based plastics. It's hard to imagine life beyond our fossil-fueled ...

Climate change may lead to bigger atmospheric rivers

May 25, 2018

A new NASA-led study shows that climate change is likely to intensify extreme weather events known as atmospheric rivers across most of the globe by the end of this century, while slightly reducing their number.

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gkam
1 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2015
Just dump your fecal matter into the sea for everyone else to enjoy.
JessicaH
not rated yet Mar 19, 2015
How hard is it to screen the waste before dumping it in the ocean?
adam_russell_9615
not rated yet Mar 19, 2015
You flush your toilets into the ocean?
And then you swim in that?
Gino
not rated yet Mar 20, 2015
We don't deliberately pump sewerage into the sea but sometimes flash floods cause an overflow.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.