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Four in ten admit to flushing the ‘unflushables’ down the loo

41% of us flush toilet tissue wet wipes


...and almost a third of women flush sanitary products.

They block sewers and end up on our beaches but millions of us are still flushing ‘unflushables’ down the loo.

According to new research from Keep Britain Tidy, it is the younger generation who are most likely to flush not bin, with 65% of 18-24 year olds admitting to flushing wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton buds, cotton wool products or condoms.

The flushing of ‘unflushables’ down the loo causes blockages that, ultimately, can result in an increased amount of marine litter.

The research also revealed that 76% of people would stop buying toilet tissue wet wipes if they were told that were not, as manufacturers claim, ‘flushable’.

Furthermore, 85% of consumers would view these products less favourably if they were to learn that they went on to cause blockages and/or environmental pollution.


“This research has important implications for the consumers and manufacturers of so-called ‘flushable’ products. If we can prove the link between flushing these wipes, blockages and subsequent marine litter, consumers will dispose of these items appropriately or stop buying them altogether.”

-Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton


The research, supported by United Utilities, is published in the latest edition of Keep Britain Tidy's Journal of Litter and Environmental Quality.

Other findings from the research included:

  • Those aged 45 and over are less likely to flush ‘unflushables’ with less than half (42%) always, frequently or occasionally flushing them away. The average figure for those aged 18-44 is 60%
  • Among those who admitted to flushing the ‘unflushables’ 93% said they would be concerned if they subsequently caused a blockage in their drains and 91% said they would be concerned if it blocked the public sewer. 88% expressed concern about it contributing to flooding, 86% about the risk of it becoming beach litter and 87% if it ended up in the sea or a river.

The Journal, supported by the British Cleaning Council, also includes articles on a new innovation to tackle dog fouling and the future of the single-use carrier bag.

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