Boots to phase out all plastic-based wet wipes by the end of the year
High-street chemist Boots has pledged to stop selling all wet wipes containing plastic fibres in response to growing consumer demand for sustainable toiletries.
The chain has announced it will phase out plastic-based wet wipes and replace them with plant-based biodegradable products by the end of 2022.
Eleven billion single-use wet wipes are used in the UK every year of which around 90 per cent contain plastic, according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
Boots openly admits to having sold 800 million disposable hand wipes, baby wipes and make-up removal wipes in the past year in its stores and online. The retailer accounted for an estimated 15 per cent of beauty wipes sold in the UK in that time, with more than 140 different lines stocked across skincare, baby, tissue and healthcare.
Most wipes are made from a non-woven fabric resembling cotton, but despite their soft texture they are woven together with plastic fibres such as polyester and polypropylene. Once disposed of, they break down into microplastics, which then pollute the oceans and enter the food chain.
Wet wipes should not be disposed of down the toilet, despite the labels on some products claiming they are flushable, because they end up clogging the sewers. The cloths cause hundreds of thousands of blockages every year and lead to “fatbergs” – rock-like masses of waste matter in the sewer system formed by the combination of flushed non-biodegradable solids and fat, oil and grease deposits.
Announcing the plastic-based wipe ban, Steve Ager, chief customer and commercial officer at Boots UK, said: “Our customers are more aware than ever before of their impact on the environment, and they are actively looking to brands and retailers to help them lead more sustainable lives.
“We removed plastics from our own brand and No7 wet wipe ranges in 2021, and now we are calling on other brands and retailers across the UK to follow suit in eliminating all plastic-based wet wipes.”
Healthcare chain Holland & Barrett announced a complete ban on the sale of all wet wipe products from its UK and Ireland stores in 2019, while Tesco – which sells 4.8 billion individual baby wipes each year – stopped stocking branded wipes containing plastic last month, after reformulating its own-brand wipes.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow praised Boots’ “encouraging commitment” to prevent the damaging plastics in wet wipes from entering the environment while MCS chief executive Sandy Luk described the announcement as a “fantastic step in the right direction”.
Ms Luk added that MCS volunteers collected nearly 6,000 wet wipes during its latest annual Great British Beach Clean.
“[That] is an average of 12.5 wet wipes for every 100 metres of beach surveyed,” she said.
Source iNewsApril 20, 2022