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Wet wipes cause blockages in wastewater treatment systems

The use of wet wipes causes a lot pf problems in wastewater treatment systems.

Irish Water has said that the practice of flushing them down toilets is “unfortunately commonplace” and can cause “severe blockages” in the sewer system and wastewater treatment systems.

Wet wipes have been identified by Water UK as causing 93% of blockages in UK sewers, and a key element of the notorious fatbergs that often create giant obstacles underground.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for Irish Water said that the practice of flushing baby wipes and other sanitary items down the toilet happens often around the country and “can cause severe problems for the wastewater treatment system network”.

“Among the most commonly flushed items are baby wipes, cotton wool buds, cleansing pads, cigarettes and even nappies,” the spokesperson said.

Irish Water said that these items can combine with fats, oils and greases to create blockages in our sewers, although fat bergs like those seen in the UK are rare.

The spokesperson added: “[This] can build up over time, leading to blockages in sewer networks, wastewater treatment systems, which can also result in flooding. Clearing these blockages in the public network is costly and time-consuming.”

Comment on the UK move, the Green Party in Ireland said it would be in favour of a ban on wet wipes here.

Party leader Eamon Ryan told TheJournal.ie: “We would support a ban on wet wipes, as part of a wider range of measures to cut down on single use plastic use and plastic pollution, although the government has no plans to enforce this yet. In a statement , the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment did not say it had any plans for the banning on wet wipes but would follow closely a planned publication from the EU on plastics.