Holland & Barret has announced that it will no longer be selling wet wipes across its 800 stores from July, in an effort to tackle the problem of fatbergs.

The announcement comes in the wake of the discovery and removal of several fatbergs across the country, including the Whitechapel fatberg in 2017 that measured 250 metres and weighed as much as 19 elephants. More recently, Devon’s largest ever fatberg was discovered by South West Water in February 2019, weighing 90 tonnes.

Such discoveries in recent history have highlighted the growing problem plaguing our sewers and waterways. People are flushing products, including wet wipes, under the false assumption that it isn’t harmful.

According to the EarthWatch Institute, 9.3 million wet wipes are flushed down UK toilets every day, and despite the fact that many are labelled as ‘flushable’, they do not biodegrade quickly enough in the sewage system because they often contain plastic.

The Marine Conservation Society also reported a 300% increase in wet wipes found during its annual beach clean, with an average of 12 wet wipes found per 100 metres of beach.

Holland & Barrett is officially the first UK high street retailer to stop selling wet wipes, and instead will focus on promoting environmentally friendly alternatives such as cotton pads and exfoliating gloves. This means removing all 34 branded and own-branded products from its wet wipe range.

Joanne Cooke, the head of beauty at Holland & Barrett, has this to say: “There is a growing awareness of how much our current throwaway culture is damaging our oceans, beaches and rivers. We want to encourage our customers to think about what they currently throw away and encourage them to swap to more sustainable alternatives. The quickest way for us all to make a positive impact on the world we live in is to choose to spend our money on more sustainable products.”

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