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How Plastic Ban Could End ‘Nightmare’ River Scenes

The use of plastic in wet wipes has led to discarded items turning a river into a scene reminiscent of the 1993 horror film The Nightmare Before Christmas, an MP has said.

Andrew Gwynne MP made the comparison during a parliamentary debate on a private member’s bill proposed by fellow Labour member Fleur Anderson, which seeks a ban on wet wipes that contain plastic.

Mr Gwynne, the member for Denton and Reddish in Greater Manchester, said such scenes were common on the River Tame in his constituency, where high levels of microplastics have been detected. The river merges with the Goyt to form the Mersey in Stockport.

Responding for the government, environment minister Rebecca Pow said a ban would be considered, although the evidence would need to be examined carefully. However, she urged the public not to flush wet wipes down the toilet.

Consumers keen to reduce the amount of plastic pollution going into rivers, lakes, the sea and other parts of the environment don’t need to wait for any products to be banned by politicians. By buying sustainable products online, everyone can play their part.

Speaking to PA News about her campaign, Ms Anderson, who represents Putney in London, said of wet wipes: “There’s a lack of awareness that flushing them down, they don’t disintegrate, they do stay in the system for a long time. They do go out to the sea, they go on the banks of the Thames.“

As the Evening Standard notes, a ‘wet wipe island’ the size of two tennis courts has appeared on the Thames close to Hammersmith Bridge. So many wipes have ended up in the Thames they have been altering the shape of the riverbed.

For the sake of curbing pollution in major rivers like the Thames and the Mersey, some major curbs in plastic use appear to be needed.

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