The UK Government has now confirmed its plans to ban the supply and sale of single-use plastic wet wipes across the country. Read the press release here.

In its response to the consultation that took place in late 2023, Defra jointly with the devolved administrations confirmed that the policy measure received overwhelming public support for the proposed ban – with 95% of respondents in favour of it.  

Read Government consultation response here:

  • The scope of the ban includes the supply and sale, allowing the manufacture of the products for other global markets. 
  • There will also be an exemption for the supply and sale of wet wipes containing plastic for industrial and medical purposes. The industrial exemption will be designed to allow businesses (such as hospitals or food production sites) to buy them from other businesses, such as wholesalers, or directly from the manufacturer. Once purchased, these wet wipes will not allowed to be  be sold onto consumers (with the exception of community pharmacies).
  • Governments hopes to introduce respective Regulations to ban SUP wet wipes before the summer recess, so that legislation to be in place across the UK by the end of 2024. With the General Elections on the horizon this timing may be reviewed. 
  • From the point each separate piece of the legislation is passed, there will be an 18-month transition period to allow manufacturers adequate time to transition to producing plastic-free wet wipes.

  • In England, the ban will be enforced principally through civil sanctions. In Wales, it is intended that the regulations will be enforced through either criminal sanctions or civil sanctions (or both) depending on the nature of the offence. In Scotland, Scottish Ministers will introduce secondary legislation under section 140 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Due to the recent return of the Northern Ireland Assembly, enforcement plans are still being worked up to be agreed by the DAERA Minister.
  • It is anticipated enforcement will be undertaken by Trading Standards and Local Authorities.
  • More detailed guidance for businesses and enforcement officers will be published in due course. A full review of the ban (including on the scope, range of exemptions and materials included) will be undertaken periodically.