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Water & Sanitation

Disgusting Wads of Wet Wipes Are Clogging Sewers Across the UK

With giant wads of baby wipes jamming up sewer systems throughout the UK, sanitation companies and environmental activists are issuing a “3P” plea to all toilet flushers:

“Only pee, paper and poo goes down the loo!”

The environmental organization City to Sea championed the slogan as part of a campaign to reduce plastic waste, but a report issued by Water UK, which represents major UK water and sewage companies, has echoed the theme.

Take Action: Simply take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach.

They are encouraging water companies to educate people about items that cannot be flushed and urging baby wipe manufacturers to label their products as “non-flushable,” but the responsibility, they say, ultimately belongs to the flusher.

“Of course, there are things individuals can do – which is bin the wipes rather than flush them,” the report says.

Wet wipes, which contain plastic and are not biodegradable, make up 93% of the gunk causing sewer clogs, Water UK reports. Those clogs cost the UK more than £100 million per year.

Global Citizen campaigns on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including Number 11, sustainable cities and communities, and Number 6, access to clean water and sanitation for all people. You can take action with us here .

Read More: How the ‘Monster Fatberg’ Blocking London’s Sewers Is Going To Power 350 Double-Decker Buses

The UK’s “fatbergs” and wet wipe wads may seem harmless — except to the workers charged with extracting them — but elsewhere in the world, clogged drains can cause serious problems. Standing water provides a fertile breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes and an oasis for disease-bearing rodents. Waste water from clogged drains can also enter drinking water systems, causing deadly diseases like cholera.

In China, enterprising individuals even harvest “gutter oil” — the fat that clogs sewers — and resell it to street vendors for cooking.

No matter where they are found, the clogs are hazardous — and gross, as evidenced by this gallery of plugged up sewer Tweets.