East of England flushes equivalent of 30 blue whales-worth of unflushables in one year

05 October 2021


Shocking data gathered Anglian Water, has revealed that people across the East of England have wrongly disposed of almost 3000 tonnes of unflushable items down the sewer network, putting the region’s much loved environment at risk.


The mountain of rubbish, which is largely made up of wet wipes, disposable face masks, nappies,  sanitary items and cotton buds, has been filtered out by the company’s Water Recycling Centres over the last 12 months, and is the equivalent weight to around 30 blue whales.


Anglian Water is supporting the awareness campaign Unblocktober, and it’s drive to protect the wider environment. The campaign is aimed at improving the health of the country’s drains, sewers and watercourses and sea by educating people about what to not put down the drain.


Unblocktober is the world’s first awareness month designed to fight fatbergs and prevent plastic pollution. It will be returning for the third time during this month.

The water company clears over 40,000 blockages every single year, caused by wrongly flushed items, as well as a buildup of fats oils and greases.  This equates to one blockage every 5 minutes - of which 80% are avoidable. They cost the company a whopping £19 million a year to remove and  can often lead to sewer spills resulting in pollution to the wider environment.


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.


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.”


For more information on Unblocktober, and how to get involved, visit: https://www.unblocktober.org