13th May 2024

Ever think that King Henry VIII, Severn Trent and wet wipes would have a right Royal connection?

Neither did Severn Trent until a few simple calculations revealed a very interesting link to the late monarch’s ‘throne’.

Because it can take up to 500 years for wet wipes that contain plastics to breakdown, which means if Henry or one of his many wives had popped one down the loo back in 1524, it would only be breaking down now!

The horrible history connection is a stark reminder of just how tough wet wipes are, with customers being urged to avoid potentially costly blockages by putting the wipes and other ‘unflushables’ in the bin, rather than the toilet. 

The Government recently announced world-leading legislation to ban wet wipes containing plastics, something which Severn Trent backed. But people still need to be mindful about what they are flushing and are reminded that only the three P’s – pee, poo and paper – and put down the toilet.

Grant Mitchell, sewer blockages lead for Severn Trent, said: “I didn’t think we’d ever be able to connect Henry VIII and wet wipes together, but it just goes to show how tough they are and how that impacts the sewers.

“The new Government ban that has been announced is an extremely positive step forward, but we still need to work together with our customers and by only putting the correct items down the toilet will greatly improve sewer health, which will keep everyone protected from unnecessary hassle of blockages.

“We are continuing to urge everyone to keep in mind that only the three P’s should be put down the toilet – pee, poo and paper.” 

In the past year, waste crews at the water company have managed and cleared an astonishing 28,782 blockages. One of the biggest offenders of blockages is wet wipes, even some that say ‘flushable’ or ‘biodegradable’ on the packaging don’t break down like toilet paper. Other problem items include kitchen roll, cotton buds, nappies and sanitary products. 

Wet wipes and other unflushable items cause massive issues when flushed, including blockages that back up and cause sewage to flood into homes – something which is not nice for householders and costly to fix so everyone is being asked to be a binner, not a blocker.  

For further information and advice about blockages visit www.stwater.co.uk/my-supply/sewer-stories and keep an eye out on Severn Trent social media for the Sewer Stories.  

Anyone who has a problem, either with slow drains or a blocked sewer it can be reported here or by calling 0800 783 4444.