Stop Flushing Wipes

Your local rivers and streams are being littered and polluted with wet wipes. Let’s work together to make it stop

We’re The Rivers Trust, and we’re working with United Utilities in your area to raise awareness of the impact wet wipes are having on our rivers environment. You’ve probably heard about the issues wet wipes are causing, but did you know it’s happening so close to where you live?

What’s the problem?

In the UK wet wipes improperly flushed down toilets cause c.93% of all sewer blockages, these cause pollution in rivers and sewer flooding. Nationally, more than £100 million is spent every year in mitigating both environmental and operational impacts of flushing wipes, including sewer flooding of homes, with costs ultimately passed onto water company customers/bill payers.

How do wet wipes end up in the rivers?

In heavy rainfall used wet wipes flushed down the toilet can leave the sewer system and enter rivers through combined sewers overflows. These exist to provide relief to sewer systems and prevent homes from flooding during storms.

Unfortunately, these overflows can cause unpleasant sanitary items, including wet wipes, to be littered along riverbanks.

What are combined sewer overflows?

Combined sewer overflows provide relief to the local sewer network in periods of really heavy rain to prevent homes and streets in your neighbourhood from flooding with wastewater.

In heavy rainfall conditions, combined sewer overflows can discharge rainwater mixed with sewage into rivers. This is allowed under strict conditions and with the permission of the Environment Agency to limit their impact on the environment.

Wet wipes flushed down the toilet do not disintegrate like toilet paper and because of this they have become the biggest cause of sewer blockages in the UK. These blockages can lead to sewage flooding and can also cause pollution to local rivers which we aim to protect.

So what are we doing about it?

Working in partnership with United Utilities, we have developed a locally targeted campaign in areas where there is a particular environmental concern caused by flushing wet wipes.

#Stopflushingwipes will in part be supported by the local network of Rivers Trusts and volunteers utilising their strong presence at the heart of communities to change consumer behaviour to stop flushing wipes and to protect the environment.

Get Involved!

Help us get the message out about wet wipes.

Pledge to #StopFlushingWipes on social media!

Download a social media pack here.

Other ways you can support our campaign:

  • Volunteer with your local Rivers Trust on a litter pick.
  • Donate to support our work in cleaning up rivers
Volunteer Donate

This project has been made possible with the support of EU LIFE+ funding | Project number: LIFE14 IPE/UK/027

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