Flushable wipes not causing septic problem, INDA president says

By Anna Aguillard | Oct 29, 2015

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) – Lawsuits seeking recovery from harm allegedly caused by flushable wipes are “missing the target,” according to Dave Rousse, president of the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry.

His remarks come after the City of Perry, Iowa, filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Oct. 13, arguing that the manufacturers of flushable wipes, including Proctor & Gamble, are knowingly selling products that cause harm to city plumbing systems. It is one of many similar lawsuits.

The complaint alleges that wipes marketed as flushable - such as Pampers, Huggies, Charmin, Cottonelle and Scott - are causing clogs and other issues, costing thousands, if not millions, of dollars in damages to city wastewater systems.

According to Rousse, the claims are misdirected.

“I don’t believe the case, as presented, has merit,” Rousse said. “The problem is not with wipes that are designed and passed the tests required to be marketed as flushable. Those are not the wipes that are causing the kinds of problems the City of Perry is having.”

The real culprit, Rousse said, is non-flushable wipes that were never designed or intended to be flushed, but that get flushed anyway, such as facial wipes, baby wipes and disinfecting wipes.

“We are trying to get those wipes to carry a prominent ‘do not flush’ symbol that we have designed so that we consumers do not flush those inappropriately,” Rousse said.

While INDA is working with the wastewater industry to resolve issues caused by non-flushable wipes, Rousse argued that focusing the blame on flushable wipes is wrong.

“The flushable wipes are a very small portion of the mark, less than 10 percent, so they are really not the cause that are causing the issues,” he said.

This is not the first lawsuit filed by a municipality against a maker of flushable wipes. Other INDA members are facing similar litigation, according to Rousse.

In the city of Wyoming, Minn., a similar suit has been filed against wipe makers. Additionally, some individuals attempting to acquire class action status have filed suit for alleged damages caused by flushable wipes.

“There is some litigation out there, but its similar in that they all blame problems being experienced on a very small quantity of wipes designed and marketed to be flushable, when the problems are actually caused by other wipes,” Rousse said.

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