Wet wipes containing plastic to be banned from sale in UK

Wet wipes containing plastic will be banned from being sold in the UK, with legislation expected to be announced by Environment Secretary Steve Barclay today.

The government is planning to introduce the legislation before parliament's summer recess begins in July.

The new law will make it illegal to sell wet wipes containing plastic in England, before being rolled out to cover the rest of the UK in autumn.

Discarded wet wipes frequently litter Britain's beaches and eventually break down into microplastics, which contribute to water pollution and damage ecosystems.

Numerous retailers - including Boots, Aldi and Tesco - have already moved to ban them from their shelves.

Mr Barclay has said the ban "builds on a raft of actions already taken to protect our waterways and hold water companies accountable".

The other actions include "accelerating investment, putting water company fines back into the environment and quadrupling the number of inspections of water company sites", he said.

However, Labour has said the legislation does not go far enough and is calling for "a full ban on the sale, supply and manufacture of plastic wet wipes".

They've also pointed out that the Conservatives first promised to ban wet wipes in 2018.

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Today's proposal comes following a consultation that revealed there is overwhelming support for the move and campaigners have welcomed the news - while also calling for the government to go further.

Jane Martin, chief executive of environmental organisation City To Sea, said: "It's a positive step forward to see the government take definitive action on banning this pollutant, but action must not end there.

"The government should now look to tackle all single-use plastic products through further bans and mandated reuse and refill targets."

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Parliament's summer recess begins on 23 July and the bill is expected to be introduced before then.

With a general election expected later this year, ministers will have limited time to pass the law.