NACWA Comments on Proposed DC Wipes Regulations as California Considers Legislation

(April 23, 2019) - As part of its ongoing Toilets Are Not Trashcans campaign, NACWA submitted comments on the regulations for flushable wipes proposed by the District of Columbia (DC) Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE).  DOEE was required to develop these regulations by the District’s wipes labeling law, the Nonwoven Disposable Products Act of 2016.  The law and the proposed regulations are the first in the US related to the labeling of wipes. 

The regulations proposed by DOEE would establish a flushability standard for wipes labeled as “flushable.”  It would also require non-flushable wipes to be labeled with a “Do Not Flush” logo and a statement that they are not flushable.  Parts of the proposed flushability standards are based on the International Water Services Flushability Group (IWSFG) flushability specifications, which NACWA helped to develop with other international clean water associations. 

In its comments, NACWA recommended that the flushability standard be changed to follow the IWSFG flushability specification in its entirety.  NACWA explained how the IWSFG specification compares to the flushability guidelines set by the wipes industry and how the IWSFG specification is designed to protect sewer systems. 

NACWA agreed with the overall requirements proposed by DOEE for the “Do Not Flush” logo, and which are similar to the voluntary 2nd Edition INDA Code of Practice: Communicating Appropriate Disposal Pathways for Nonwoven Wipes to Protect Wastewater Systems (COP). 

NACWA, INDA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the American Public Works Association (APWA), and the Canadian Water & Wastewater Association (CWWA) collaborated on the COP.  Since wipes manufacturers frequently camouflage the “Do Not Flush” logo by using similar colors for the logo and the package background, NACWA recommended that DOEE require a red logo. 

In a related development, California is now considering legislation similar to the DC wipes law.  A bill sponsored by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA), AB 1672, is currently moving through the state legislative process, recently passing out of its first policy committee.  More information is available on the CASA website