California & Washington Wipes Bills Move Forward

(February 6, 2020) – State bills to address the labeling of wipes took important steps forward in California and Washington last week. 

AB 1672 in California was approved by a vote of 58-18 on the Assembly floor on January 30, and the bill will now move to the California Senate. After it was introduced in February 2019, the bill passed through two committees and was then placed on a two-year track. The bill originally required that wipes labeled “flushable” meet the flushability specifications of the International Water Services Flushability Group (IWSFG).  This requirement was removed from the current version of the bill, resulting in the wipes industry supporting the bill.

The bill still requires that non-flushable wipes have a clearly visible “Do Not Flush” logo on their packaging. The California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) will continue to work on the bill to strengthen it as it moves through the Senate.

In Washington, HB 2565 also requires “Do Not Flush” logos on non-flushable wipes, but does not set a standard for using the term “flushable” on packaging. The bill was approved unanimously by the House Committee on Environment & Energy on January 30 and will now continue towards a vote on the House floor. 

Both the California and Washington bills use the labeling Code of Practice (2nd Edition) published by the wipes industry associations as the basis for the non-flushable wipes labeling guidelines. NACWA worked with the wipes associations and other water sector groups on this Code of Practice to ensure that the “Do Not Flush” logo would be prominently displayed on wipes packages.

This Code of Practice is currently voluntary and not followed consistently, with many manufacturers camouflaging the “Do Not Flush” logo with the package artwork. The California and Washington bills both include language to emphasize that the logo must be in high contrast to other package artwork and easily visible to consumers. 

NACWA will continue to work with its members and state associations to advance state legislation to address the wipes issue.  NACWA members interested in this issue may contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.