Fatbergs are so synonymous with modern life that this week the Museum of London has set one on display permanently. But the mountains of fat, grease, wet wipes and waste that are clogging up our sewers are so damaging that politicians are exploring ways to eliminate them.
One suggestion that has been mooted is that men’s loos should be fitted with sanitary bins, just like women’s, to encourage toilet users to chuck away non-flushable items.
Members of the Greater London Assembly environment committee have suggested in a new report they might be a solution to stopping wet wipes and incontinent products from ending up down the drain.
“Public awareness around single-use plastics, in terms of disposable water bottles and coffee cups, is high. But what about other daily products – wet wipes, nappies and period products?” Caroline Russell, Green party member and chair of the LGA environment committee, said.
“We urgently need to educate people not to flush these items down the toilet, and take some practical steps to help the situation.”
The report, titled “Unflushables”, states that across the UK, over 11 billion wet wipes, nearly 2.5 billion period products, nearly 4 billion nappies and over a billion incontinence products are purchased every year, where they combine with fat and oil to create fatbergs and sewer blockages.
Last year, a 250 metre long “monster” fatberg weighing 130 tonnes was found in a sewer beneath Whitechapel, London. Historians in London chopped off a slice and put it on display, arguing the fly-infested chunk is historically important as it tells the story of modern urban life.