Cleaning hands with wet wipes

Boots will stop selling plastic-based wet wipes by the end of the year

Image credit: Dreamstime

The pharmacy and beauty brand will remove all wipes that contain plastic fibres from its product line, due to their environmental impact

The pharmacy chain, which sold more than 800 million wet wipes in the last year, will replace wipes that contain plastic fibres with plant-based biodegradable alternatives by the end of 2022. The move follows Boots' 2001 decision to remove plastic from its own-brand wipe ranges.

Boots is one of the biggest sellers of wet wipes in the UK, with more than 140 different lines stocked across skincare, baby, tissue and health care categories.

A large proportion of the 11 billion wet wipes used in the UK every year still contain some form of plastic, according to the Marine Conservation Society, and evidence suggests they are the cause of more than nine in 10 blockages in UK sewers.

Steve Ager, chief customer and commercial officer at Boots UK, said: “Our customers are more aware than ever before of their impact on the environment and they are actively looking to brands and retailers to help them lead more sustainable lives.

“We are calling on other brands and retailers across the UK to follow suit in eliminating all plastic-based wet wipes. By joining forces, we can collectively make a big difference.”

Despite Boot's 2001 pledge, plastic-based wipes continue to have a large impact in the UK environment. During the Marine Conservation Society's 2021 Great British Beach Clean, the organisation's volunteers removed nearly 6,000 wet wipes from British beaches, an average of 12 and a half wipes for every 100 metres surveyed.

“The fact we’re still finding so many wet wipes on beaches shows that we need to remove plastic from wet wipes and move toward reusable options wherever possible, and it’s great that Boots are making commitments to this,” said Sandy Luk, chief executive at the Marine Conservation Society.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow added: “We have already conducted a call for evidence on wet wipes, including the potential for banning those containing plastic. In the meantime, our message is clear – you should bin and not flush wet wipes."

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