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Don't flush sustainability down the toilet

School pupils are being taught about the environmental impact of hidden plastics by drainage company, Lanes for Drains

Posted by Julian Owen | October 12, 2018 | Sustainability

Drainage contractor, Lanes for Drains, is helping teenagers in the fight against hidden plastics by working with secondary schools to produce lesson plans and educational resources.

Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the ocean each year, according to National Geographic, causing pollution on a mass scale. While television programmes like Blue Planet II have helped raise awareness, not enough people know about the growing problem.There is hidden plastic in everyday items that people incorrectly dispose of - often flushing them down the toilet - causing significant damage to our drains, sewers and oceans. Some of the main offenders include wet wipes, tampons, sanitary towels, condoms, contact lenses, and nappies. Although hidden plastics make them more durable, they are also non-biodegradable.

Lanes recently conducted a study in which the UK public admitted to wrongly flushing products containing plastics, despite knowing they should be disposed of in the bin. It found that:

 - As many as 20 million women have flushed a tampon or sanitary towel - full of hidden plastic - down the toilet in their lifetime

 - Nearly a third (31%) of people have flushed a wet wipe down the toilet

 - 10% of men have flushed a condom down the toilet in the last year

Lanes has developed comprehensive, downloadable lesson aids enabling secondary teachers to educate pupils about the dangers of hidden plastics, how to correctly dispose of them, and the positive changes they can make to reduce their environmental footprint.

“Global issues such as hidden plastics are largely underrepresented within the national curriculum, compared with the scale of the problem."

Michelle Ringland, Head of Marketing at Lanes Group, said: “Although our study found that the majority of people know how to correctly dispose of wet wipes, tampons, sanitary towels, condoms and nappies, they continue to wrongly flush them down toilets.

“The environment is under more pressure than ever, having been damaged by the actions of older generations, but it is the young and future generations who will have the biggest positive effect on solving the problem; we want to instil positive habits in schoolchildren and empower them to drive environmental change at school and home.

“We’ve already seen how public opinion can drive positive change, such as the 5p carrier bag charge and the ban on microbeads, and we want to encourage additional changes to further minimise the impact of plastic pollution.”

Tiph Moore, Teacher at Woodhey High School, said: “Global issues such as hidden plastics are largely underrepresented within the national curriculum, compared with the scale of the problem, but putting the spotlight on the topic through these lessons proved incredibly successful in engaging the children in my class.”

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