Note: There is updated information on this topic. Read the latest article.
Legislation would require that disposable wipes be properly labeled if they are non-flushable.
Dealing with sewer blockages and damage to pipes, screens, pumps, and other collection and treatment equipment in municipal wastewater systems is a significant cost for most cities. A meaningful contributing factor to those clogs is disposable wipes that are improperly flushed. The cost to city utilities amounts to millions of dollars per year and it can also result in costly damage to private property due to sewer back-ups.
Current best practices promoted by the non-woven disposable products industry itself include a label that accurately marks whether the product is flushable or not. Unfortunately, that is a voluntary decision and has occasionally been done inaccurately.
HF 3181 (Rep. Anne Claflin, DFL-South St. Paul) would require that such a label be used and set the standard for what defines a “flushable” wipe. The bill has been heard and passed by the House Commerce Committee and the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee.
The League, the Minnesota Rural Water Association, and city public works officials have all testified at those hearings about the need for consistent and reliable labeling. Cities cannot educate the public on what not to flush if the products are not accurately marked.
It will next be heard in the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division, where the penalties for businesses and manufacturers of non-compliance will be the topic of discussion. No hearings have been held on the topic in the Senate.