UK retailer Boots has vowed to stop selling all wet wipes that contain plastic fibres by the end of the year.
The pharmacy chain is one of the biggest sellers of wet wipes in the country, with more than 140 different brands stocked across skincare, baby, tissue and health care categories.
After selling more than 800 million wet wipes last year, it now plans to replace plastic-based wipes with plant-based biodegradable alternatives.
It comes after Boots reformulated its own-brand wipe ranges without plastic.
The Marine Conservation Society claim that a large proportion of the 11 billion wet wipes used in the UK every year still contain some form of plastic – with evidence suggesting they cause more than nine in 10 sewage blockages.
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 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.
“We all have a responsibility to protect our planet. By joining forces to inspire more positive action, we can collectively make a big difference.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said the move is a “really encouraging commitment from Boots to prevent the damaging plastics in wet wipes from entering our environment”.
She 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.”
Marine Conservation Society chief executive Sandy Luk said: “It’s a fantastic step in the right direction for retailers, like Boots, to remove plastic from their own brand wet wipes and ask that all brands they stock do the same.
“Our volunteers found nearly 6,000 wet wipes during the Great British Beach Clean in September 2021, which is an average of 12 and a half wet wipes for every 100 metres of beach 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.”