Wet wipes, used for sticky fingers and removing eye make-up, as well as on other anatomy use could be phased out in the United Kingdom for constituting 93 percent of sewer blockages, according to a BBC report monitored in Lagos. This is just as the product is booming in Nigeria without regulation amid widespread flooding in the country caused by litters of non-biodegradable plastics.
The BBC report indicates that the UK government has put manufacturers of wet wipes on notice that the product, which contains non-biodegradable plastic, could be eliminated or such manufacturers develop plastic free wipes.
The British government says its plan to eliminate plastic waste “includes single-use products like wet wipes”, the BBC report said.
In Nigeria, where plastic bottles are widely used and often times constitute drainage challenges, there is no known effort to curb the use of these non-biodegradable substances.
However, environmental analysts say if the UK pulls through with the planned legislation, Nigeria could follow in that direction, going by the reactive and copy predisposition of government.
“The policy decision of the UK government could be replicated in Nigeria where there is also a heavy presence of wet wipes-mostly baby wipes and facial wipes as well as plastic bottles,” an analyst told business a.m., lamenting that policy direction in the country is not proactive.
Another said he supports legislation on proper disposal of these products after use, rather than outright ban given the immense benefits to both homes and the fashion and make-up industry.
“Products in the category of wet wipes known to easily block sewers and prevent water from flowing freely in drainage should have their economic gains examined side by side with the danger associated with their improper disposal after use, he warned.
In Lagos State, flooding resulting mainly from blockages of canals and other drainage facilities in and around the metropolis through heavy presence of refuse, especially plastic waste, has rendered thousands of residents homeless and roads impassable during heavy rainfalls.
However, innovative plastic waste disposal systems have been cited as effective means of managing this environmental risk. Recycling of plastic waste and other forms of waste is becoming a major trend in waste management systems across the globe.
Sweden leads this innovation globally and analysts hope Nigeria as Africa’s giant could take a cue from Sweden, by not only ensuring waste recycling but also that manufacturers provide clear labeling on packaging informing users or consumers of the proper ways of disposing of products such as wet wipes after use.
The wet-wipe industry has flourished over the last decade with manufacturers offering an ever broader range of wipes, for sensitive skin, babies’ bottoms, removing make-up, applying insect repellent, deodorant or sunscreen. However, most are made of polyester and other non-biodegradable materials.