Recently we've seen major headlines referencing a fatberg that’s been disrupting the flow of the Thames, and it’s the size of two tennis courts. Now, this isn’t a hint to grab your racket and the nearest ball boy, it’s a wake-up call to acknowledge the shudder-inducing number of nether-napkins caking up our riverbeds. The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent and a variety of other news outlets have been urging the public to stop flushing the pesky potty wipes.
In fact, this specific fatberg, coined ‘wet wipe Island’ was found in Hammersmith, London, and is the result of countless people flushing wet wipes down the loo. A fatberg is a build-up of grease and household waste that can block sewers and increase overflows into rivers, and around 90% of the matter found in them is wet wipes. Flushing wipes significantly increases the risk of fatbergs, sewer blockages, water body pollution and negatively impacts aquatic wildlife.
How are wipes getting from the loo into our rivers in the first place? If wipes are ‘fine to flush’ then how is this happening? And what can we do to prevent the negative impacts?