Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin
Archive/Subscribe |  
May 28, 2015

FTC Ruling: Wet Wipe Manufacturer To Substantiate "Flushability" Claims

Print Print this Article | Send to Colleague

FTC Ruling: Wet Wipe Manufacturer To Substantiate "Flushability" Claims 

According to a Press Release from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the U.S., wet wipe manufacturer, Nice-Pak Products, Inc., under Settlement, has agreed to stop advertising moist toilet tissue as flushable unless it can substantiate that the product is safe to flush.  

According to the FTC’s complaint, Nice-Pak violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting that a certain formulation of its wipes: 1) are safe for sewer systems; 2) are safe for septic systems; 3) break apart shortly after being flushed; and 4) are safe to flush. The FTC investigation found that a particular Nice-Pak product, advertised as flushable, did not meet its claims.   Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated, "If you claim a product is flushable, it needs to flush in the real world, without clogging household plumbing or sewer and septic systems."

Nice-Pak, in agreeing to a Settlement, make no admission of guilt and have ceased production of the one product cited in the complaint, so the full impact of this Settlement agreement are yet to be seen. However, those of us in the industry that must deal with the effects of wipes in the pipes are excited about the wording used by the FTC and the precedent this ruling will have on future complaints.

The proposed administrative consent order settling the FTC charges prohibits Nice-Pak from misrepresenting that any wipe is safe to flush, unless it can substantiate that the wipe will disperse in a "sufficiently short amount of time" after flushing to prevent clogging and/or damage to household plumbing, sewage lines, septic systems, and other standard wastewater treatment equipment. The test must also replicate the physical conditions of the environment where the wipes will be disposed. The FTC statement also calls for "competent and reliable scientific evidence" to support any claims made.  

Comments are being received on this FTC ruling until June 19, 2015.

This reference to real world testing and calls for competent and reliable scientific evidence supports CWWA/WEF/NACWA/APWA position in discussions with the wipes industry. The industry currently works with a voluntary guidance document referred to as GD3, but which is entirely developed, tested and administered by the industry. This GD3 process has not been accepted nor endorsed by any of the associations listed above. These utility associations have commenced negotiations with the non-woven industry association (INDA) toward developing a much better technical guidance document (GD4) as well as programs to better label products as "Do Not Flush."

Meanwhile, CWWA and MESUG in Canada are leading an international effort to develop an ISO standard to define terms such as "flushable" and set requirements for proper labelling of all products that have a high likelihood of being flushed.
CWWA will be providing comments to the FTC to support this ruling and the wording they have used. CWWA will also suggest the use of an ISO standard, with third party verification, as the most appropriate source for "competent and reliable scientific evidence."

Related links:


Back to Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin

Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn