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Wipes form 93% of sewage blockages, study finds

Baby wipes, cosmetic wipes, sanitary towels and nappies are among the offending items.

Wipes make up to 93% of material causing sewer blockages, according to a study by Water UK.

There are 300,000 sewage blockages in the UK every year at a cost of £100 million, according to the study by the trade body for water companies.

An investigation of 54 blockages discovered that baby wipes alone made up 75% of blockage material.

The survey found other items like cosmetic wipes, sanitary towels and nappies were also a major cause of blockages.

Rae Stewart, Water UK’s director of corporate affairs, said: “Our sewerage system is just not designed to handle things like baby wipes which don’t break down in water.

“The good news is that by taking action we can stop the horror people face when their homes are flooded with raw sewage.”

If a blockage occurs within the boundaries of a property, the owner is responsible for the cost of fixing it.

Pipes outside the boundary are owned by the water company, which is liable for the cost of repairs.

EDANA, an industry group for makers of non-woven materials like wipes, is encouraging its members and retailers to adopt the “Do Not Flush” logo on all non-flushable products by October next year.

“It is clear that further outreach to the public is needed on this issue to inform them about the difference between flushable and non-flushable wipes,” said Marines Lagemaat, scientific and technical affairs director of EDANA.

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