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Wiped Out! Boots is banning all plastic-based wet wipes

19 April 2022
News CSR
  • With over 800 million wet wipes sold in the last year in its stores and online, Boots is taking action to eliminate unnecessary plastic and it is calling on others to follow suit
  • Boots has committed to remove all wet wipes that contain plastic fibres from its shelves by the end of the year, replacing them with plant based biodegradable alternatives
  • This latest move follows Boots successfully reformulating its own brand wipe ranges and making wider efforts to reduce plastic and become a more sustainable retailer

A large proportion of the 11 billion wet wipes used in the UK every year still contain some form of plastic1 and evidence suggests they are the cause of over nine in ten of the blockages in UK sewers2.*

Boots is one of the biggest sellers of wet wipes in the UK with over 140 different lines stocked across skincare, beauty, baby, tissue and health care categories. It is one of the leading sellers of beauty face wipes, representing up to 15% of all face wipes sold across the UK.

Today Boots has written to its suppliers across the UK and ROI, remove all wet wipes that contain plastic fibres from its shelves and boots.com by the end of 2022. This is the latest move from Boots in its mission to be a more sustainable retailer and to help its customers to make simpler, more sustainable choices.

 

Steve Ager, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, Boots UK, said: “Our customers are more aware than ever before of their impact on the environment, and they areactively looking to brands and retailers to help them lead more sustainable lives.

“We removed plastics from our own brand and No7 wet wipe ranges in 2021, and now we are calling on other brands and retailers across the UK to follow suit in eliminating all plastic-based wet wipes. We all have a responsibility to protect our planet. By joining forces to inspire more positiveaction, we can collectively make a big difference.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “This is a really encouraging commitment from Boots to prevent the damaging plastics in wet wipes from entering our environment.

“We have already conducted a call for evidence on wet wipes, including the potential for banning those containing plastic. This is in addition to the action we have already taken to tackle plastics, including banning microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, restrictions on single-use plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds, and the 10p plastic bag charge.

In the meantime, our message is clear - you should bin and not flush wet wipes.” 

Sandy Luk, Chief Executive at the Marine Conservation Society, said: "It’s a fantastic step in the right direction for retailers, like Boots, to remove plastic from their own brand wet wipes and ask that all brands they stock do the same.

“Our volunteers found nearly 6,000 wet wipes during the Great British Beach Clean in September 2021, which is an average of 12 and a half wet wipes for every 100 metres of beach surveyed. The fact we’re still finding so many wet wipes on beaches shows that we need to remove plastic from wet wipes and move toward reusable options wherever possible, and it’s great that Boots are making commitments to this.”

Not only is Boots committing to eliminate plastic in wet wipes, it also has expanded its ranges of reusable and refillable alternatives in the last two years, including offering reusable make-up remover pads, cleansing pads, baby reusable wipes and refillable cleansing products. ​

This pledge is the latest change the retailer has introduced as part of its sustainability commitments: ​

  • 100% of Boots seasonal gift range was free from secondary plastic last Christmas, removing over 2,020 tonnes of plastic.
  • In 2021, Boots successfully removed all plastic packaging from its online deliveries – equating to eliminating 157 tonnes of plastic*
  • Customers using the innovative ‘Recycle at Boots’ scheme have deposited over one million hard to recycle beauty, health and wellness products. It’s the first scheme of its kind in the UK, accepting all products including those not purchased at Boots, utilising Scan2Recycle technology to encourage more sustainable habits. Since September 2020 over 19 tonnes of plastics have been recycled

 

 

*All Boots brand wipes will be labelled as “Do Not Flush” or where we need to develop flushable wipes for intimate use, these will be developed to meet the WRC Fine to Flush standard

**Aside from 0.2% of orders. These orders are packed in bioplastic, a compostable starch-based material which is sustainably created whilst also being durable enough for large items, to withstand transport to customers.

1mcsuk.org

2Water UK

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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer. Its mission is to be the first choice for pharmacy, health and beauty - caring for people, customers and communities everywhere.

With over 53,000 team members and 2,247 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores, Boots serves its customer and patients’ wellbeing for life.

Boots is the UK’s number one beauty destination and largest pharmacy chain providing dispensing and essential healthcare services, and it offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of product offering including its innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle, Sleek MakeUP and YourGoodSkin. For over 170 years, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on boots-uk.com.

 

*Figures as of 31 May 2022