Bag It and Bin It is a national water industry-led campaign promoting
responsible disposal of discarded personal products. It raises awareness
of the key issues through distribution of leaflets, stickers and other
material to the public.
What Items are we Talking About?
Waste is anything that is thrown away because it is no longer needed.
Waste from people's bodies can of course be flushed down the toilet.
Many other waste items can be recycled. However, there are waste items
which can neither be flushed nor recycled and these should be placed
safely in the normal rubbish bin. Waste sanitary and pharmaceutical
items should, for health reasons, first be placed in bags before being
put in the bin. The Bag It & Bin It campaign focuses in particular
on items such as:
- Cotton buds
- Condoms and Femidoms
- Tampons and tampon applicators
- Sanitary towels, panty liners and backing strips
- Facial and cleaning wipes
- Disposable nappies
- Incontinence pads
- Old bandages
- Razor blades
- Syringes and needles
- Colostomy bags
- any other items e.g. food, plastics, toilet roll tubes, tights
What's the Problem?
The toilet and sewerage system is designed to deal with urine, faeces
and toilet tissue. If you flush other items down the toilet it can
easily lead to blockages in the pipes and can cause flooding. But that
is not the only problem that may occur. When the waste eventually gets
to the sewage treatment plant it can block the plants' filter screens.
If there is heavy rainfall, this waste may escape from overflow pipes
directly into the river and sea. This waste is known as Sanitary Related
The Scale of the Problem
An estimated 2 billion sanitary protection items such as condoms,
tampons, razors and cotton buds are flushed down toilets each year.
Our sewers were not designed for this sort of waste and despite the
efforts of the water industry to remove these products from the system,
some of them still escape the system and end up on beaches, riverbanks
and canal sides. The 2003 Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch Campaign
collected over 21,000 items of SRD accounting for 7.8% of the total
waste collected. This amounts to an average of 160 items per KM of
The Impact of Sewage Related Debris (SRD)
SRD can end up on British beaches and riverbanks and can pose a health
risk to humans and wildlife alike. It also looks horrid. Would you
like to walk down the beach and see a condom in the seaweed and a tampon
applicator in a rock pool?
Marine wildlife can also suffer greatly. They often mistake plastic
materials for food. Sea birds have been found with condoms in their
stomachs and turtles have been found to have a wide variety of plastics
in their stomachs.
They can confuse small pieces of plastic for food and have been seen
trying to feed this to their chicks. SRD can also be mistaken for
nesting material. The long term effects of plastics to marine wildlife
is not yet known
but the health risks from used sanitary products, razor blades, out
of date medicines, used condoms, dirty needles and the like cannot
The visual impact of this litter on the environment is also significant.
An ENCAMS study found that SRD was one of the biggest causes of offence
to beach visitors. It has been estimated that local authorities spend
up to £14
billion cleaning up beach rubbish every year.
Bag It and Bin It
Disposable products are an everyday part of life. They are easy and
convenient to use and easy and convenient to dispose of. But you should
not flush them away.
Be part of the solution; follow the simple disposal code:
Don't Flush It …Bag It & Bin