October has seen Anglian Water supporting the world’s first national awareness month to highlight the problems caused by un-flushable items.
The Unblocktober campaign was launched by drainage and wastewater solutions company Lanes Group plc to get the British public on board to help improve the health of drains, sewers, watercourses and seas. People signed up to an online pledge to not put un-flushable items down their drains and toilets. Britain’s sewer network is under ever-increasing pressure – for too long we have consistently flushed and poured dangerous liquids and items into our drains. This leads to the creation of fatbergs – enormous masses of congealed fat, oil, grease, wet wipes, period care products, cotton buds, condoms, nappies, bandages and much more – which block drains and sewers and cause them to work less effectively than they should.
Anglian Water engineers have cleared over 40,500 blockages from the region’s sewer network in the last 12 months, 85% of which are the result of un-flushables including wet wipes and sanitary products, plus fats, oils and grease (FOG).
Rachel Dyson, manager of the “Keep it Clear” Programme said: “We are delighted to be supporting Unblocktober, which is a campaign close to our hearts at Anglian Water. Sewer blockages have been increasing in frequency in recent years and we estimate around 800 tonnes of un-flushable items are being wrongly disposed of every week in the East of England. This is why we urge people to not put anything down toilets unless it is pee, poo or (toilet) paper and not to put food waste down sinks.”
Collette Parker, the “Keep it Clear” Community Engagement Manager, added: “This year Norwich Science Festival has a focus on food, giving us a good opportunity to promote the Unblocktober message and highlight why we should all avoid food waste and fats, oils and grease going down our sinks. We are also promoting solutions such as using a food digester, composting or taking cooking oil to your local recycling centre.”
In order to communicate the importance of “Unblocktober” we thought it would be useful to highlight a few eye-opening statistics that truly demonstrate the scale of this problem:
- More than 3,000 homes are flooded in the UK every year because of blockages and fatbergs created in the sewers by improperly discarded FOG
- £90 million is spent on clearing fatbergs in the UK each year
- Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans on an annual basis
- 4.8 pieces of period care waste are found for every 100 metres of beach cleaned
- Wet wipes makeup around 93% of the material found in sewer blockages, and are estimated to cause around 300,000 blockages every year!
Here are a number of ways in which you can ensure that the positive effects of “Unblocktober” can continue indefinitely:
- Keep up the good habits – once you have learnt what can and can’t be put down the sink or toilet, there’s no reason to fall back into bad habits. Keep monitoring the way you handle waste disposal, and carry on reminding family, friends and colleagues about their responsibilities if you see standards slipping
- Invest in eco-friendly products and keep using them – there are plenty of handy products that you can buy for your home or office to help you reduce the amount of waste entering the sewers, including sink strainers and food scrapers for the kitchen, or special eco-friendly wet wipes to replace plastic-based products. By investing in these during October and keeping them in use, you can help to change your drainage habits for good
- Stay educated – now that you’re aware of the impact that plastic pollution and fatbergs can have on the UK’s waterways, don’t get complacent! Keep on investing in biodegradable products and continuing to prioritise green issues in your corporate policies, and you will be able to retain a strong reputation as an environmental champion
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