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Reps. McClain, Lowenthal Introduce Legislation to Create National Labeling Standard for Non-flushable Wet Wipes

July 21, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Lisa McClain (R-MI) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) introduced the Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety (WIPPES) Act. This bipartisan legislation to create a national standard for the labeling of non-flushable wet wipes. This commonsense standard would address the growing problems of these wipes being flushed into and creating obstructions in public sewer, stormwater and wastewater systems.

The WIPPES Act would require manufacturers of non-flushable wet wipes to clearly and prominently display a “DO NOT FLUSH” label on their packaging and would set fines for manufacturers that do not follow the regulation. The bill would also create an education program to inform consumers of the meaning of the new labeling, why the new labeling is required, and the adverse impact of these wipes on water infrastructure systems when flushed.

“Too often, false marketing leads people to flush wipes that are not safe for our plumbing infrastructure,” Congresswoman McClain said. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which is key to maintaining and protecting our sewage systems.”


“The problem of flushed wet wipes has created tremendous problems for our water infrastructure for many years and is just one facet of our growing glowing plastics waste pollution crisis,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “The WIPPES Act would provide consumers with the information they need to properly dispose of these wipes, and in doing so protect our water infrastructure and our environment.”

“I fully support this important legislation. Nationally, these wipes are wreaking havoc on our underground infrastructure. The packaging clearly needs to say, ‘Do not flush,’” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice S. Miller.

While wet wipe products have proliferated, many consumers do not know that many of these products do not rapidly breakdown or decompose and should not be flushed. Non-flushable wipes that are flushed have led to a major increase in clogged sewer and septic systems, damaged wastewater treatment facilities, costing unnecessary taxpayer dollars to fix, and an increase in plastic micro-fibers from the wipes making their way through the wastewater system and back into the environment.


The bill is supported by Macomb County Public Works, the National Rural Water Association, ,  the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), the Ocean Conservancy, Greenpeace US, and the Surfriders Foundation.

“On behalf of the hundreds of publicly-owned treatment works NACWA represents nationwide, I applaud Reps. Lowenthal and McClain for their bipartisan legislation to require Do Not Flush labeling on non-flushable wet wipes,” National Association of Clean Water Agencies CEO Adam Krantz said. “Non-flushable wipes do not break down as they travel through the sewer system, resulting in clogs and blockages that cost public utilities money, put workers at risk, and cause environmental harm. Simply put, Toilets are Not Trashcans. The Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety Act would require labeling for non-flushable wet wipes, a reasonable approach to protect homeowners, wastewater infrastructure, and the environment. NACWA looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to advance this important legislation.”

 

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