Count of State Wipes Bills Increases; Plastics in Wipes Raises Concerns
(March 10, 2021) – After Washington became the first state to enact a wipes labeling law in March 2020, the number of states that are interested in similar laws has increased. NACWA is now aware of six states with active legislation California (AB818), Illinois (SB294), Massachusetts (HD1625), Minnesota (HF914), and Maine (HD1625).
Washington’s law requires clear “Do Not Flush” labeling on the packages of non-flushable wipes. The Minnesota and Maine bills contain this same requirement and would also establish a flushability standard for wipes labeled “flushable.” The other states are taking Washington’s approach – they do not address the contentious flushability issue and instead focus on the education of consumers with proper labeling of wipes that are not intended to be flushed.
Last year, the federal Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act was introduced with a labeling requirement for non-flushable wipes and the NACWA-supported flushability specification for flushable wipes. Although this bill did not pass, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (R-Calif.) stated during a February 23 hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment that he intends to introduce similar legislation this year. The European Union already recognizes the problems associated with wipes made from plastic, with a labeling requirement for plastic-containing wipes going into effect next year.
NACWA has provided legislation resources on its Flush3P.org website, including model legislation and an accompanying white paper.
Please contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, if you would like more information on wipes legislation or if you are aware of legislative efforts in your state.