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October is the month to protect our sewers and save our seas

Thousands of Brits join Unblocktober to help save our sewers and seas




NOTE TO EDITORS: If you want to send a reporter out with a blockage team to see for themselves how serious the problem of fats and oils and wipes in sewers is, and how it causes plastic pollution that damages the environment, please email or call the number below.

Drainage engineers working across the Midlands are calling for business and the public to back Unblocktober, the world's first awareness month aimed at protecting the UK's sewers and seas, which launched this week.

They are urging businesses and householders across the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire and Shropshire to join the thousands who are already involved in this ground-breaking initiative.

The campaign, which is backed by Severn Trent, launched on 1st October. It aims to fight plastic pollution and fatbergs by encouraging people across the country to make small changes to their waste disposal habits in their kitchens and bathrooms for the whole month, helping them establish new routines that will be better for their drains and for the environment.

Data from drainage and utility specialist Lanes Group plc shows that at present, 48% of British people admit to pouring fats, oils and grease (FOG) down their drains, with the resulting blockages doing significant damage to the UK's waterways.

Additionally, an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year - often in the form of wet wipes, which contain hidden plastic content that makes them unsuitable to flush down the toilet.

More than 1,500 participants - a combination of individuals and organisations - have signed up already to tackle these trends, and more are joining every day. Lanes Group, the creators of Unblocktober, is urging those who are still interested to join these numbers by signing up to take part.

Drainage engineers from Lanes' Midlands depot at Minworth, in Birmingham, work across the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire, and see the harm caused by FOG and, especially, wipes in drains every day.

Emergency drainage engineer Keaton Burbidge said: "We see all sorts being flushed down drains, including nappies, razor blades, bandages and condoms. But the biggest problem is wipes.

"I went to one blockage at a house recently and the owners admitted they flushed cleaning wipes down the loo. They don't act like toilet paper and they contain plastic which can stay in the environment."

CCTV drainage survey engineer Nathan Parkes said: "Cotton buds are some of the worst things. They get stuck in pipe joints and are like teeth that catch wipes and other stuff and that creates the blockages."

Clean water and excavation engineer Paul Dunn said: "I'm hoping Unblocktober will raise awareness about the damage people are causing. If people make simple changes to what they do, they can help prevent it."

The campaign has been backed by the national Love Water initiative, which includes over 40 organisations and is jointly spearheaded by the Environment Agency and Water UK. It is also officially supported by leading industry organisations such as Thames Water, Southern Water, Yorkshire Water, The Future Water Association, The Rivers Trust, United Utilities and many more.

To take part in Unblocktober, participants must ensure they are putting none of the following items down their drains or toilets throughout the month of October:

       Cooking oil - pre or post-cooking




       Cooking sauces and condiments

       Food - even crumbs!

       Anything containing plastic, including:

       Wet wipes

       Tampons, applicators and wrappers

       Sanitary/menstrual pads and towels



       Cotton buds

       Contact lenses

       Bandages and plasters

       Razor blades

       Dental floss

Michelle Ringland from Unblocktober said: "It's hard not to be aware of the environmental challenges facing the planet at the moment - and yet many remain oblivious to the damage that carelessly flushing non-biodegradable items down the drain can cause.

"In many cases, this is simply due to a lack of education or awareness, which is why we're so keen for individuals and businesses to get involved with Unblocktober. By making this small commitment to improving your habits for a month, we're hopeful that participants can lay the foundation for lasting change that will make a big difference to the environment.

"By getting as many people as possible signed up to take part in Unblocktober from October 1st onwards, we'll be able to show that Britain is serious about protecting our sewers and seas for generations to come."

To sign up and find out more information about Unblocktober, visit

Editors notes:

PR Contact: Andy Comber

Telephone: 01952 883526



About Unblocktober

Unblocktober is the world's first month-long national campaign and awareness month to improve the health of our drains, sewers, watercourses and seas - driven completely by the British public.







Unblocktober's official supporters include:


       Love Water

       Thames Water

       Fab Little Bag

       Anglian Water

       Southern Water

       Yorkshire Water

       Rivers Trust

       Water Research Centre

       Future Water Association

       Cheshire Wildlife Trust

       Hvitved Larsen

      United Kingdom Society of Trenchless Technology (UKSTT)

      United Utilities


About Love Water


Love Water is a major campaign involving more than 40 environmental groups, charities, water companies and regulators, aimed at getting the British public involved in safeguarding water resources for future generations.


The campaign will raise awareness of the importance of water and the role everyone plays in protecting it. It will feature events and initiatives, such as beach and river clean-ups and water-saving projects, designed to engage the public and encourage them to enjoy water and the environment.


Love Water's supporters include:



       Rivers Trust

       Water UK

       Water Aid

       Consumer Council for Water

       National Union of Students (NUS)


       Yorkshire Water

       Thames Water

       National Farmer's Union

       United Utilities

       Southern Water

       Anglian Water

       South East Water

       Angling Trust

       South Staffordshire Water

       Wessex Water

       Welsh Water

       City to Sea

       Wildlfowl & Wetlands Trust

       UWE Bristol

       Affinity Water

       Northumbrian Water

       British Canoeing

       Severn Trent Water

       Bristol Natural History Consortium


       Dover District Council


About Lanes Group

Lanes Group plcis a national wastewater and drainage solutions provider. It sits at the heart of the drainage industry in the UK and Ireland, and is serious about delivering excellence in service, safety and innovation.

The company has a network of 32 depots and strategic utility hubs, providing high quality utility, drainage, and maintenance services for commercial, public sector and domestic customers.

Specialist market sectors include water utilities, construction, energy, rail, highways, insurance and commercial maintenance.

Survey data taken from a 2019 poll of 1,216 British people on their habits and attitudes on drainage use. The full results of this survey can be viewedhere.