Unblocktober 2022: What did we learn going into 2023? 

washing dishes

Drainage and wastewater expert Lanes Group writes

We are so pleased with the success of Unblocktober 2022, and the efforts that people made to change their habits and help the environment. We had 38,784 people within businesses who made the Unblocktober pledge across 289 organisations, as well as 4,601 individuals signing up. 

We had several firsts, including the first Unblocktober Awards, which saw winners across three categories. Environmental Compliance and Services (ECAS) become the first ever winner of the Business Champion of the Year Award. ECAS won the award for its work in spreading the message about how changes in drainage habits and waste disposal can help to protect the sewers and waterways from blockages and pollution. 

Our first Individual Champion of the Year award went to Nuno Santos Silva, a Loughborough University postgraduate student who has conducted his final dissertation master’s thesis on the prevention of fatberg outbreaks. 

The third award for the Newcomer of the Year Award was presented to first-time Unblocktober participants who have really shown their commitment to the cause. In this category the winner was Kevin McCabe, whose new invention Fogfilter helps to keep our drains clear and water clean.

We also had our first in-person event with the Unblocktober Manchester Canal Clean Up. To be able to make a tangible difference – alongside several of our partners from Clever Closet and I-COM, as well as members of the public – was brilliant to see. But what does this mean looking into 2023?
Drain health is still important

One thing that Unblocktober has taught us looking into 2023 is how important drain health remains, not just on an individual level but also on a wider environmental level. Especially in the early months of the year, the cold weather can mean that drains affected by unhealthy habits can burst and cause expensive damage that needs to be repaired. On a wider scale, unhealthy drains can lead to huge issues for the environment as a whole, from wet wipe islands to microplastics and pollution. 
Environment is becoming an ever larger issue

Unblocktober 2022 was highly focused on the environment and reflected the growing need to combat the damaging effects that poor drain health is having on the environment, with huge fatbergs blocking drains and sewers all over the country. This causes them to work less effectively than they should, which has huge ecological impacts and is causing increased pollution in our waterways at a time when we simply cannot afford to be creating any more environmental damage.

The British public are worried but need to enact change
In a survey conducted by Unblocktober we found that 97% of the British public say they are at least slightly worried about the environmental damage caused by putting the wrong items down the toilet and drain. Despite this worry, 65% of the respondents admitted to pouring fat and oil down the sink. This highlights the need to to close the gap between the recognition of a problem and actually changing behaviours to stop the damage caused by poor drain habits. The work for Unblocktober is therefore far from done, and we will continue to help to make people aware of how to utilise their drains in a way that is kind to the environment.

If we look to 2023, the biggest takeaway we can see is the importance of action to help our environment before time runs out.