600 tonnes of 'unflushable' waste clogs up drains and sewers

Anglia Water Lowestoft wet wipe monster unblocktober

Anglian Water are raising awareness of the impact of 'unflushables,' such as this wet wipe monster removed from a sewer in Lowestoft - Credit: Anglian Water

New data from Anglian Water has revealed the shocking amount of "unflushable" waste that is clogging up sewer systems in Norfolk and Waveney.

Nearly 600 tonnes of waste, the equivalent of six blue whales, has been filtered out by the company's water recycling centres over the last 12 months. 

Anglia Water has launched its annual month-long campaign, Unblocktober, to educate people about what items should not be put down the drain. 

Blue Whale and Calf

The equivalent of nearly 6 blue whales-worth of unflushable waste has ended up in Norfolk and Waveney drains and sewers this year - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Each year, 40,000 blockages are cleared from the region's drains and sewers, costing the company £19 million.

The huge amount of "unflushable'"waste is mostly consists of wet wipes, disposable face masks, nappies, sanitary items and cotton buds.

Anglian Water Unblocktober campaign norfolk and waveney

Items such as wet wipes, cotton buds, sanitary towels and nappies are common culprits for drain and sewer blockages - Credit: Anglian Water

These items get clogged up in drains causing 'fatbergs' to develop and also add to the problem of plastic pollution.

This waste can be highly damaging, as blockages can cause sewer spills that pollute waterways and the wider environment.

Anglian Water Unblocktober campaign

Anglian Water clear 40,000 blockages a year from the region's drains and sewers - Credit: Anglian Water

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Regan Harris from Anglian Water said: “ We care passionately about protecting the environment, which is why we’re highlighting that blue whales belong in our seas not our sewers. This data shows just how much unflushable material is filtered out of our waste water and removed at our Water Recycling Centres every year, but unfortunately, not all of it makes it that far.

“We have 76,000km of sewer pipe in our region., that’s enough to go around the world twice, Wet wipes are the most common cause of problems in the sewer and are by far the worst culprit. But tampons, fats or cotton buds also cause problems. Most of these blockages are entirely preventable, but instead lead to devastating sewage spills, can harm the environment and cost millions of pounds each year to clear.

Anglian Water Unblocktober campaign

Clearing drain blockages costs Anglian Water £19 million a year - Credit: Anglian Water

"At a time when protecting our planet for the future is really at the forefront of all our minds, there’s something really simple we can all do at home to make a huge difference. The message is simple – bin it, don’t flush it – only the three P’s go down the toilet – that’s pee, poo and (toilet) paper.”

More information on the campaign can be found here.

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