Launching the national Bin the Wipe campaign, water industry body Water UK revealed figures from new research showing that despite 88% of people knowing that flushing wipes is bad for the environment, 22% still use their loo as a bin to dispose of wipes.
Northumbrian Water launched Bin the Wipe in 2020 as its innovative approach to tackling the problem of wipes in sewers, the leading contributor to blockages in the sewer network.
Blockages caused by flushed wipes can result in flooding to homes and the environment.
Since the North East launch, blockages have reduced by 52% in the areas the team has worked, with a 64% reduction in the number of home flooding incidents.
This success has caught national attention and, through a co-ordinated approach led by Water UK, water companies across the country will adopt the Bin the Wipe message from today (February 13).
Northumbrian Water’s Bin the Wipe team work across hot spots, areas where analysis of blockages shows a high volume of wipes in the sewers. In 2022, the work across 24 hot spots saw the team engaging with customers in more than 90,000 households, adding to the communities that had already been visited with the Bin the Wipe message in 2020 and 2021.
Customers living in hot spots receive letters outlining the problems caused by flushed wipes, and a team of sewer workers monitor the area’s waste pipes, tracing poor flushing habits back upstream, allowing for conversations with customers.
In 2022, a Parliamentary event attended by MPs from across the House, showcased Bin the Wipe, previewing the national roll-out and highlighting the importance of behavioural change on flushing.
Simon Cyhanko, Head of Wastewater Networks at Northumbrian Water, said: “This is such an exciting day. We know from the successes we have had in the North East that Bin the Wipe is a simple message that is easy to understand and take action on.
“Making a difference to your own home and those of your neighbours doesn’t have to be hard. All we ask – and all that’s being asked of people across the country from today – is to stop using toilets as bins and put wipes, and other things like sanitary products, in the bin, not down the loo.
“We’ve gone back to some of our past hot spot areas and found that the good habit of not flushing wipes is sticking, with the reduction in the number of wipes found in the sewers decreasing by as much as 91%.
“It’s also really exciting that the rest of the industry, and even Members of Parliament, have been watching, and that the Bin the Wipe message is going national.”
Liz Twist, MP for Blaydon, said: “It’s been great to see the success in the Bin the Wipe campaign within my constituency and across the North East. Such an effective and simple message has managed to have a huge impact and the work that Northumbria Water and Water UK have done with this campaign has been exceptional. It’s exciting to see stakeholders across the UK stepping up to take notice.”
Notes to editors:
• Savanta surveyed 2,320 UK adults online between 27-29th January. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of all UK adults by age, gender region and social grade
• Bin the Wipe is a national campaign from Water UK to tackle one of the UK’s biggest issues when it comes to blocked drains and damaged sewers: flushed wet wipes. You can find more information at www.binthewipe.org