6,000 tonnes of unflushables removed at Yorkshire Water’s wastewater treatment sites every year

A skip full of plastics at Yorkshire Water's Knostrop wastewater treatment works
Blockages Network and infrastructure


6,000 tonnes of unflushable materials, such as wet wipes, nappies, plastics and other foreign objects are screened out and removed from Yorkshire Water’s wastewater treatment works every year – the equivalent of 1,000 male African elephants.

Many of these materials are responsible for blockages that develop within the sewer network, but those that do not cause a blockage eventually make their way to treatment sites where they are removed by screens.

The vast majority of material removed is made up of wet wipes, sanitary items and other unflushable items. Clothing, driving licences, false teeth, mobile phones are some of the more unusual objects removed at Yorkshire Water’s treatment works.

Ben Roche, director of wastewater at Yorkshire Water said: “Every year we spend millions of pounds removing blockages in our sewers across the region caused by wet wipes, fats and other unflushables being put into the network. Many items incorrectly disposed of into the sewer network make their way to the treatment works, where they are removed by screens before the wastewater is treated.

“We would urge all our customers not to flush anything but pee, poo and toilet paper – the 3Ps - down their toilets. Removal, recycling and disposal of foreign objects that reach our treatment works incurs costs – money that could be better spent in other areas of our operations.”

Yorkshire Water has previously backed calls for a ban on plastics in wet wipes and all single-use sanitary items.