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Winnie the Pooh and Action Man help block Scotland's sewers

An outboard motor for a boat, an Action Man doll, pink bicycle and a giant Winnie the Pooh cuddly toy are just some of the objects that contributed to more than 40,000 blockages in Scotland's drains and sewer network last year. According to Scottish Water, new figures show that about 80% of blockages are caused by people putting the wrong things down their sinks and toilets.

Choked pumps at Glencaple Pumping StationChoked pumps at Glencaple Pumping Station

The company has launched the second phase of the biggest-ever awareness campaign to highlight the impact of what some people wrongly put down their toilets and sinks. Starting today, a series of television and radio advertisements – backed by regional campaigns in Dumfries and Stirling – will highlight easy ways householders can play a part in keeping the water cycle running by disposing of kitchen and bathroom waste responsibly or by saving water.

Cooking fat, oils and grease (FOG) coupled with bathroom waste such as cotton buds, nappies and baby wipes creates a perfect storm of solidified fat and material that cannot break down easily like toilet paper and collects in large clumps in Scotland’s sewers. The blockages create costs of more than £7M a year for the water company.

Chris Wallace, director of communications at Scottish Water, said: “The wastewater drain which runs from your house to the public sewer is usually only about four inches wide, which is less than the diameter of aDVD.

“This drain is designed to take only the used water from sinks, showers and baths and pee, poo and toilet paper from the toilet. Scottish Water believes the best way to tackle blocked drains and sewer flooding is to work with our customers to prevent blockages that can clog up the cycle in the first place.

“We are also running a new TV advert which will encourage everyone to turn off the tap while they are brushing their teeth. This water comes straight out of the tap and goes down the plughole and running a tap can use between two and 26 litres of water per minute."

Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland said: “I welcome the launch of this new initiative by Scottish Water to raise awareness of how to keep the sewer system clear of waste. Where food waste is concerned, it's important that consumers understand how to dispose of it properly. Food waste that cannot be used or avoided is easily recycled or composted. Over half of households across the country now have access to food recycling services and we are continuing to roll these out in towns and cities nationwide.

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