Wet wipes to blame for nearly half the blockages in Yorkshire Water's sewer network

Wet wipes incorrectly flushed down the loo were the most common cause of blockages in Yorkshire Water’s sewer network in 2021.

Blockages linked to wet wipes made up 11,996 obstructions of the 26,790 (45 per cent) Yorkshire Water removed from its network in the 12-month period.

Other regular culprits include fats, oils, sanitary products, construction debris and tree roots.

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Many wet wipes contain plastic and do not break down in the sewer – unlike toilet paper – meaning they can become snagged and stick together blocking the flow of sewage.

A mass of wet wipes being removed from a Hull sewer Credit: Yorkshire Water

Wet wipe blockages can lead to restricted toilet use in homes, sewage escaping into properties, gardens or roads, and in some cases can lead to pollution of local watercourses.

In November the Government launched a consultation over extending a ban on single-use plastic items to plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups in England.

A separate call for evidence is also investigating how to limit other polluting products including wet wipes that contain plastic.

Mark Hammond, head of customer field services at Yorkshire Water, said: “We spend millions of pounds every year resolving blockages caused by wet wipes and the incorrect disposal of items down toilets and sinks, money which could be better spent elsewhere.

“We are urging people who use wipes to put them in the bin once used, rather than flushing them into the sewer, to reduce the number of unnecessary blockages we deal every day.”