Monday 16th September 2019 12:00
Customers are being asked to make a commitment to take care with what they put down drains next month as part of a campaign being backed by Thames Water.
Unblocktober aims to get as many people as possible pledging to cut the amount fatberg-causing materials with what they flush away.
The campaign has been put together by Lanes Group, a partner of Thames Water that helps the UK’s largest water company clear 75,000 sewer blockages every year to prevent homes flooding and damage to the environment.
These are overwhelmingly made up of products which should not be in the sewers, such as fats, wet wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products.
To get involved in Unblocktober, which lasts for all October, people should commit to only putting water down the sink with just the three Ps – pee, poo and paper – going in the toilet.
Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said: “Each year, we have to clear thousands of blockages from our sewers caused mainly by a combination of cooking oil and wet wipes put down our drains. These can lead to sewage flooding into customers’ homes, which is a horrendous experience, and damage to the environment.
“Unblocktober is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this problem and we hope all of our customers make the pledge.”
Thames Water spends £18 million per year clearing blockages from across the region, many of which could easily be avoided.
Henry Badman, biodiversity manager, said: “With the success of other campaigns like Dry January and Movember, I think Unblocktober is a great way of educating people about the problems caused because of unflushable items ending up down the drain.
“Most people are simply not aware things like wet wipes should not be flushed away but instead put in the bin.”
Michelle Ringland, head of marketing at Lanes Group, said: “We have the opportunity to drive real behavioural and environmental change in the UK at a critical time. If we can join together this October as a nation - from toddlers to OAPs - and make the same commitment together, the improvements to the health of the environment we live in will be huge.”
The Environment Agency’s Love Water campaign is also lending its support, with Helen Wakeham, deputy director of water quality saying: “As part of the Love Water campaign we are urging people to use water wisely, protect water quality and think before pouring cooking oil down the drain or flushing a wet wipe away. By taking these simple steps, we can all play our part to reduce blockages, as well as pollution of our rivers and seas.”
Within its 2020-25 business plan, Thames Water has committed to reducing the number of blockages it needs to clear annual by 10,000 every year.
To register to take part in Unblocktober, visit www.unblocktober.org