By the end of the year, Boots will have removed all wet wipes that contain plastic fibres from its shelves. The health and beauty retailer admitted to being one of the leading sellers of beauty face wipes, with 800 million wet wipes sold in the last year in its stores and online — representing up to 15 percent of all face wipes sold across the UK.
“Our customers are more aware than ever before of their impact on the environment, and they are actively looking to brands and retailers to help them lead more sustainable lives,” Steve Ager, chief customer and commercial officer of Boots UK, says. Environment Minister Rebecca Pow is welcoming this ban. “This is a really encouraging commitment from Boots to prevent the damaging plastics in wet wipes from entering our environment,” she says.
Wet wipes cause huge issues for the planet because the microplastics within them break down and cause damage to the ecosystem. They also cause issues with the UK’s waste system as people still flush wipes down the toilet that cannot be broken down and subsequently form something called fatbergs.
Boots has been at the forefront of recognising its areas of improvement and subsequently putting this into action through a number of changes. One of the most impactful ways it has made changes is through the Recycle and Reward scheme, an initiative that encourages customers to bring back empty (and especially those hard-to-recycle) health, beauty, and wellness products to be appropriately recycled.
It’s important to note that whilst this is a huge step forward, it of course doesn’t eliminate the face-wipe problem altogether. Many “biodegradable” wet wipes aren’t necessarily a sustainable option. While they do break down, it still takes time and, in that time, can cause the same sewage issues (even if labelled as “flushable”). The most sustainable option here is to avoid wet wipes where possible. When it comes to skin care, using a rinse-off cleanser is actually a much more efficacious option.