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Unblocktober: Sign up to help save our sewers and seas

Friday 24th September 2021 10:22

Launch of Lanes' Unblocktober campaign 2021

The fight against pollution-causing fatbergs continues as part of a national campaign backed by Thames Water.

Unblocktober invites people to change their bathroom and kitchen habits by pledging not to put wet wipes down the loo or cooking oil down the sink.

These congeal in the sewers to form huge pipe-clogging fatbergs that can cause stinking sewage to back up into homes and business, and through manholes in streets and parks.

Unblocktober is run by Lanes Group, a partner of Thames Water that helps the UK’s largest water company clear tens of thousands of sewer blockages every year, and comes ahead of Thames’ own ‘Bin it – don't block it’ campaign.

Launched in 2019, the first Unblocktober saw more than 4,500 people take part, rising to 14,500 in 2020.

Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said: “Each year we spend £18 million clearing more than 75,000 blockages from our sewers caused mainly by a combination of cooking oil and wet wipes put down our drains. 

“These blockages can lead to sewage flooding into customers’ homes, which is a horrendous experience, and damage to the environment.

“Most wet wipes are over 90 per cent plastic – it's almost as bad as putting a plastic bag down the loo. Unblocktober is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this problem and we hope all of our 15 million customers make the pledge.”

To get involved in Unblocktober, which lasts throughout October, people should commit to only putting dish water down the sink with just the three Ps – pee, poo and toilet paper – going in the loo.

Lanes’ Unblocktober spokesperson, Richard Leigh, said: “Over the last two years, we have had incredible success in raising awareness for the huge impact poor drainage habits can have on the environment.

“It is no secret that over the past 18 months, the number of ‘unflushable’ items finding their way into our drains has increased significantly. The improper disposal of face masks, rubber gloves, and antibacterial wipes have all exacerbated the existing problem and placed further pressure on our already overstretched drainage system.

“With this in mind, we are really happy to be running Unblocktober for the third time and hope to encourage more people than ever before to take part in the month-long challenge.

“We are so grateful to have the support of Thames Water - having the backing of such a respected organisation is vital to ensuring the continued success of the campaign.”

To register to take part in Unblocktober, visit