Scottish Water Welcomes UK Plastic Wet Wipe Ban

22 April 2024
Scottish Water regional manager Gavin Steel holding banner calling us to bin the wipes with our Nature Calls campaign

Plastic Wipes Ban

The UK government has announced legislation to ban wipes made with plastic as our Nature Calls campaign hits home.

“This will have a significant, positive impact on our country’s sewers and our water environments so people can enjoy them without encountering the source of sewage-related debris.”

Alex Plant
CEO, Scottish Water

Scottish Water has welcomed an announcement that the UK will ban wet wipes containing plastic to help protect the environment.

New legislation will be brought forward across all four nations and is expected to be ready in Scotland by the end of 2024, with the ban taking effect 18 months later in mid-2026.

Public support for a ban was demonstrated through Scottish Water customer analysis of our Nature Calls campaign and Scottish Government consultation, with 95% of people agreeing that wet wipes made with plastics should be banned.

Over 3,000 customers signed Scottish Water's call for a ban, along with various stakeholders including the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society and Zero Waste Scotland. 

Scotland’s sewers are clogged up with around 100 chokes a day with wet wipes a major factor in causing sewage flooding and teams being deployed to clear them, costing more than £200 per incident.

Our Nature Calls campaign – launched in February 2022 – called for a ban on wet wipes containing plastic and urged customers to bin all wipes and not flush them down toilets.

Simon Parsons, Director of Environment, Planning and Assurance for Scottish Water, said: “Nature Calls has led the way in demanding a ban on wet wipes made with plastic and we are delighted to see this progress on bringing forward new laws to prevent their sale and use. 

“This will have a significant positive impact on our country’s sewers and our water environments so people can enjoy them without encountering the source of sewage related debris.” 

Alex Plant, Scottish Water’s Chief Executive, added: “Scottish Water has worked with a range of organisations, including Water UK, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage, as well as local campaign groups and elected representatives, to tackle this issue. I am sure news of the ban will be welcomed by all.”

Nature Calls has helped to deliver a number of areas of progress on addressing sewage related debris.

To date, more than £450,000 has been saved through a reduction of more than 5% in sewer choke incidents whilst customers also said awareness of the campaign would make them think about what they flush.

A total of 69% of people said they would adopt different behaviours to wipe disposal, and 74% said they were more aware that wipes could contain plastic.

Scottish Water and NHS Scotland have also joined up to share wet wipe disposal messaging through its operations and sites. The NHS is one of the biggest users of wipes in the UK. 

Nature Calls also features on operational signage and street stencils when teams are out clearing blockages in hot spot areas.

In February 2022, 83% of people in Scotland said they would support a call for a ban on wipes containing plastic. 

Following Scottish Water activity, there was a 5% rise in people supporting the cause - 88%. (YouGov 1,000+ adults Scotland Oct 2022).