High Street Chemist ‘Boots’ to Stop Selling Plastic-Based Wet Wipes in the UK￼
Author: Responsible Business News / Date: 1 August 2022
Pharmacy joins other retail chains vowing to stop sales of plastic wipes by end of this year, as part of efforts to cut non-biodegradable waste.
This move started after Boots’ decision to reformulate its own collection of wet wipes. Although the wipes are not made to be flushed down the toilet, consumers often do, blocking waterways and sewers and causing severe environmental damage.
Having sold around 800 million over the last year, both online and across the 2,200 stores, Boots said they are one of the biggest sellers of the product in the UK. The 140 product lines across its skincare, baby, tissue, and health care ranges represented more than 15% of all beauty face wipes sold in the UK.
Boots, which is owned by the North American group Walgreens Boots Alliance is joining other high street retailers in banning the sale of plastics-based wipes. Health food chain Holland and Barrett was the first high-street retailer to ban the sale of wet-wipe products from its 800 UK and Ireland stores back in September 2019, replacing the entire range with reusable alternatives. The Body Shop beauty chain has also phased out all face wipes from its shops, followed by Tesco.
“They are actively looking to brands and retailers to help them lead more sustainable lives”, stated Steve Ager, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer at Boots, affirming that customers are becoming more and more aware of the products’ impacts on the environment.
“We removed plastics from our own-brand and No7 wet wipe ranges in 2021, and now we are calling on other brands and retailers across the UK to follow suit in eliminating all plastic-based wet wipes.”
In recent months, there’s evidence about wet wipes forming islands within rivers, causing the watercourses to change shape while the wipes are piling up. Every year, it’s estimated that more than 11 billion wet wipes are used in the UK containing some sort of plastic, most of which are flushed away after use.
Microplastic pollution poses not only a serious threat to marine life but has also been discovered lodged deep in the lungs of living people for the first time. The samples were taken from tissue removed from 13 patients undergoing surgery and microplastics were in 11 of them. The most common particles were PET, used in bottles, and polypropylene, used in plastic packaging and pipes.
Boots confirm that they have expanded their own ranges of refillable and reusable products over the last couple of years and are working to remove plastics from the packaging and deliveries.