There has been a 50 percent increase of wet wipes found on U.K. beaches since 2013, says a new report.
The wet wipes are found on the beach because more people are flushing the woven plastic material down the toilet, according to a new study by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
MCS beach watch officer, Charlotte Coombes, told the BBC:
Our sewerage systems weren't built to cope with wet wipes. When flushed they don't disintegrate like toilet paper, and they typically contain plastic so once they reach the sea, they last for a very long time.
They can cause blockages in our sewers, and then, everything else that has been flushed down the loo can either back up into people's homes, or overflow into rivers and seas.
Overflows also happen during excessive rainfall or if the plumbing hasn't been connected up properly, meaning the wrong pipes head straight to the sea. That's when we find sewage-related debris, including wet wipes, on the beach.
Sarah Mukherjee, environment director for Water U.K., told the BBC that the only things that should be flushed down the toilet are “poo, pee and [toilet] paper" (video below).
Overall, trash on the beaches from 2013 to 2014 increased by 6.4 percent, noted the report.
The study was based on trash picked up on 301 U.K. beaches by over 5,000 volunteers on Sept. 19-22, 2014.
Those volunteers hauled in 2,501 trash bags, which included 273,747 pieces of garbage, ranging from a colostomy bag to nine pairs of shoes. Plastic was the most common type of trash found on U.K. beaches.
The problem with wet wipes goes back to 2012, when London was spending almost $18 million to unblock the city's 150-year-old sewers, which carry 4 billion liters of waste water each day, reported the Daily Mail.
Another problem is when people pour hot fat down drain pipes. The fat can harden when it cools, and help the wet wipes block the sewers.