The government wants to ban wet wipes in a bid to save the environment

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Moya Crockett
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Time to find another way to cleanse…

Even the most meticulous skincare obsessives, who feel faint at the thought of going to bed without double-cleansing, will whip out a make-up wipe to take off their eyeliner at a music festival – and for many women, wipes are an essential part of their everyday beauty routine.

But according to the government, the wet wipe’s days are numbered. A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced on Monday 7 May that the products could be banned under plans to eliminate plastic waste.

“As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes,” said the spokesperson, per the Evening Standard.

Wet wipes are usually made from polyester and other non-biodegradable materials, and are responsible for causing 93% of blockages in UK sewers, according to Water UK. They are also a key contributor to creating the obstacles known as fatbergs. 

The government wants to cut down on the amount of plastic waste in our oceans

Defra said that it wants to encourage manufacturers of wet wipes – including those used for cleaning hands and body parts, as well as removing make-up – to create more environmentally-friendly options.

“We are encouraging innovation so that more and more of these products can be recycled and are working with industry to support the development of alternatives, such as a wet-wipe product that does not contain plastic and can therefore be flushed,” said the spokesperson.

The reduction of plastic waste has been a much-discussed topic in recent months. After scientists warned that the plastic waste in our oceans could triple within a decade, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the government will consult on a potential ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds (all of which contribute to marine pollution).

In addition, more than 40 companies – including Coca Cola Europe, Nestle UK and Waitrose - recently signed up to the UK Plastic Pact, a pledge to ensure that 100% of their plastic packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Want an easy way to cut down your plastic use? Check out our round-up of the best reusable water bottles here

Images: Getty Images