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Cotton Buds: The Problem

Pollution Pathways

Plastic cotton buds are among the thousands of sanitary products flushed down toilets everyday instead of being put in the bin. 

Plastic cotton bud stems are generally composed of polypropylene, one of the most widely produced plastics. As a lighter plastic, it floats on or near the water surface. This combined with their size and shape means that they pass through the majority of sewage treatment works and end up in the marine environment via regular sewage outfalls. 

They also enter the sea in untreated sewage through combined sewer overflows during storm events or due to blockages and are used as indicators of sewage related debris. Cotton buds largely go unnoticed because they don’t cause major blockages in the sewage systems and many pass through screens to end up on our beaches.

How cotton Buds get into the environment