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Thames Water launches wet wipe campaign

Thames Water has launched a new campaign urging people to stop flushing wet wipes down the toilet in a bid to reduce sewer blockages and fatbergs.

During the campaign, which uses the hashtags #FightTheFatberg and #BinIt, Thames Water customers and stakeholders will be asked to make a pledge via social media to not flush wipes down the toilet but instead put them in the bin, including the company’s CEO Steve Robertson, who kicked things off by making his own pledge.

During the four-week drive, Thames Water’s social media channels and website will display videos of an event dubbed the ‘Wet Wipe Challenge’, filmed in a busy shopping street in Reading.

Passers-by were invited to take up the challenge by shaking two bottles, one containing water and toilet paper and the other water and a wipe, and comparing the two. Most were shocked at how the wipe stayed intact instead of breaking up like the toilet paper and pledged to bin the wipes.

Throughout the campaign, there will also be online advice for customers on finding alternatives to wet wipes, videos explaining the impact of flushing wipes on the sewers and the environment and specially designed adverts on YouTube to help spread the bin it message far and wide.

Jo Charles, marketing manager at Thames Water, said: “When we speak to customers, lots of them tell us they didn’t know wipes can cause blockages and fatbergs in the sewers. We hope that by asking them to make a public pledge to bin wet wipes it will help fight the fatberg and encourage other social media users to follow suit.”

Every hour Thames Water clears five blockages from its sewer network caused by wipes, while in an average year it clears around 85,000 blockages caused by wipes and cooking fat at a cost of around £12 million. Blockages also build up in the pipes inside properties leaving owners to shoulder the costs of removal and clean-ups.

Feedback from those who took part in the ‘Wet Wipe Challenge’ included surprise that fatbergs can build up in sewers outside of the London area and that wipes do not break down when flushed.

Others questioned why wipes are allowed to be labelled as flushable, with another voicing concerns over their impact on the environment when they go to landfill.

Author: Robin Hackett, Deputy Editor, WWT and WET News
Topic: Sewer Networks , Flooding & Urban Drainage
Tags: Thames Water , wet wipes , sewers

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