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'Unblocktober' campaign launched to save sewers and seas

A new awareness month and national campaign has launched to help prevent fatbergs from destroying the sewer network and save marine life from plastic pollution.

Unblocktober, led by Lanes Group, challenges the British public to make small changes to their kitchen and bathroom habits for the calendar month of October in order to protect the environment.

In just under a month, closed pre-registration has already seen over 1,000 people sign up to take part.

Unblocktober participants will commit to putting none of the following down their sinks or loos:

  • Cooking oil – pre- or post-cooking
  • Margarine
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Cooking sauces and condiments
  • Food - even crumbs
  • Wet wipes
  • Tampons, applicators and wrappers
  • Sanitary/menstrual pads and towels
  • Nappies
  • Condoms
  • Cotton buds
  • Contact lenses
  • Bandages and plasters
  • Razor blades
  • Dental floss

Michelle Ringland, head of marketing at Lanes Group, said: “When fats, oils and grease (FOG) such as the above are poured down the drain, they collect in the sewers and begin to harden into big congealed masses – commonly known as ‘fatbergs’ – that cause serious blockages. Lanes Group itself works on between 400 to 600 fatberg-related drainage issues each month, including the ‘monster’ Whitechapel fatberg in 2017, which weighed 130 tonnes and was 250 metres long.”

Such blockages often lead to flooding, pollution and, potentially, public health problems when foul water ends up on streets and in homes.

The problem is further compounded when items that contain plastic and other non-biodegradable materials are flushed down toilets. This causes fatbergs to grow even bigger, and also ultimately leads to plastic pollution in our rivers, seas, oceans and watercourses.

“By taking part in Unblocktober, the nation can help significantly reduce the impact of the bad habits adopted in so many kitchens and bathrooms across the country,” Ringland added.

In a national survey, the company found that 48 per cent of the nation pour FOG down their drains. In addition, according to Southern Water, more than 3,000 homes are flooded in the UK every year because of FOG blockages and fatbergs, while £90 million is spent annually clearing fatbergs.

Furthermore, Lanes’ survey found that 46 per cent of the female population have flushed tampons down the toilet in the past, while 20 per cent of men have flushed condoms. In addition, 48 per cent have flushed wet wipes labelled as ‘flushable’ down the toilet.

Ringland said: “Unblocktober is the awareness month that the environment needs right now. By taking part and changing their kitchen and bathroom habits very slightly for a month, the British public can help solve two critical problems: the millions of tonnes of plastic being dumped into watercourses and the environmental and structural damage caused by sewer blockages.

“We have the opportunity to drive real behavioural and environmental change in the UK at a critical time. If we can join together this October as a nation – from toddlers to OAPs – and make the same commitment together, the improvements to the health of the environment we live in will be huge. And even more effective if we can continue these habits beyond October.”

Participants can sign up and find more information at unblocktober.org

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Sewer Networks
Tags: Fats Oils and Grease , fatberg , Lanes Group


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