Northumbrian Water is throwing its weight behind ‘Plastic Free July' and encouraging customers to ditch using single-use wet wipes - in a continued effort to help protect our rivers and seas.

‘Plastic Free July' is a global campaign encouraging millions of people from around the world to be part of the solution to plastic pollution, and helping to promote cleaner streets, oceans and beautiful communities.


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The North East water company is continuing to battle sewer blockages caused by wrongly flushed items - usually containing microplastics - which do not break down like toilet paper and clog up inside pipes, causing a headache for everyone.


Using toilets as a bin to flush items, including wet wipes, tampon applicators, sanitary towels, nappies and cotton buds, can cause all sorts of problems inside customers' homes, to communities and for the environment.


Flushed wet wipes contribute to more than 80% of sewer blockages in the UK and are a huge problem. 


Northumbrian Water is encouraging customers to consider switching to reusable and natural alternatives such as flannels, bamboo cleansing pads, muslin cloths and charcoal sponges, which are often found to be more eco-friendly and considered better for the skin by experts.


Switching from single-use products to reusable alternatives can also help customers save money, and even using household cleaning wipes can be replaced with the traditional method of a hot, soapy dish cloth to help keep any home spick and span.


Simon Cyhanko, Head of Wastewater Networks at Northumbrian Water, said: "There is such a vast range of wet wipes available on the market, from face wipes, to baby and cleaning wipes.


"Wet wipes are by far the main cause of blockages in our sewer network.


"We understand these products are convenient to use and we are certainly not advising people not to use them. If customers want to continue using wipes then all we ask is to make one simple change - and that's to Bin the Wipe. Toilets are not a bin.


"We want to give people some food for thought and consider opting for more traditional alternatives, which are just as good but often better for the environment and can help customers save money too.


"Wet wipes may leave your toilet bowl when flushed, but can clog up your plumbing and cause avoidable plumber callout charges. Even biodegradable products often don't break down as quickly as toilet paper and can linger in sewer pipes, contributing to blockages.


"Blockages can have devastating consequences, from causing people's homes to be flooded with toilet waste to the environment being polluted."


Wet wipes often stick to fats, oils and grease (FOG) in the sewer network that are wrongly poured down the kitchen sink. These then harden inside pipes like concrete, causing fatbergs to form and grow, which can be a nightmare for everyone. 


The campaign to encourage the switch is being welcomed by beauty blogger, Terri Heckley, who said: "When you're in a rush it may seem convenient to grab a wipe to remove your makeup, but the effects wipes have on our environment is detrimental.


"Microfibre cleansing cloths are just as quick and easy at removing your makeup. By simply adding water to them they will remove all traces of dirt and make up from your skin!


"So let's Bin the Wipe and support Northumbrian Water's campaign to save our planet."


For more information about Northumbrian Water's Bin the Wipe campaign and its supporters, including Terri Heckley, visit:


Local North East beauty, fashion and travel blogger, Terri Heckley, can be found on Instagram @terriheckley