Holland & Barrett becomes the first to ban wet wipes

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Holland & Barrett becomes the first to ban wet wipes
The health and wellness retailer will no longer buy, sell or produce wet wipes across England and Wales, it has announced.

Holland & Barrett has announced a complete ban on the sale of all wet wipe products from its 800 UK and Ireland stores, with all wet wipe products and variants to be replaced by environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives by end of September 2019.  

This means that all 34 products in its wet wipe range are being delisted and will be removed from all 800 UK and Ireland stores and all participating international stores by end of September this year.

Reducing and replacing waste

It is the first high street retailer to implement such a ban and it is calling on other retailers to “follow suit and make a major difference to the volume of wet wipes polluting the world’s oceans and rivers and clogging up sewage systems across the country”.

Holland & Barrett plans to replace its wet wipe products with sustainable, waste-free and re-usable alternatives such as double-sided cotton cloths, unbleached cotton muslin cloths, cotton pads and an exfoliating mitt.

Joanne Cooke, Head of Beauty at Holland & Barrett, explained: “There is a growing awareness of how much our current throwaway culture is damaging our oceans, beaches and rivers.

“We want to encourage our customers to think about what they currently throw away and encourage them to swap to more sustainable alternatives.

“The quickest way for us all to make a positive impact on the world we live in is to choose to spend our money on more sustainable products.”

Is a wider ban approaching?

In the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced its plan to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 in May last year.

This was originally set to include wet wipes​, however the department is now considering improved labelling on wet wipe disposal instead, a move which the Holland & Barrett says it “feels doesn’t go far enough”.

“Holland & Barrett believes that as there are effective and sustainable alternatives to non-biodegradable wet-wipes, it would help safeguard marine life and put an end to costly sewer blockages if the Government reverted to its original decision to review and include wet wipes in its 2042 plastic elimination programme.”

No doubt other governments and regulatory bodies will be watching closely as the situation regarding wet wipes in the UK progresses.

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