A recent study out of Ryerson University has spurred an environmental network to ask for an investigation by the Competition Bureau into false and misleading claims made by the manufacturers of 23 flushable wipes.
Friends of the Earth Canada, represented by Ecojustice, have filed the application for the investigation, contending there are environmental and cost consequences associated with consumers believing and acting on the “flushability” claims.
“We’re asking the Competition Bureau to investigate and levy fines for false and misleading advertising in the amount of $230 million,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada. “Concerned and informed Canadians can make a difference by signing our petition and helping to develop the next list of products for testing by joining the #FlushMeNot campaign.”
Ryerson University’s Urban Water program published a report in March that claimed that all the wipe products they tested failed to meet internationally recognized criteria for flushability – including those wipes labelled as flushable. The study examined more than 101 products, and all items except toilet paper failed to pass tests for drain line clearance and disintegration.
The City of Victoria has experienced issues with wipes clogging the local sewer system.
“Even though the manufacturers of these products say they are flushable or disposable, they do not break-down like toilet paper and they have caused issues with the sewer system. We have seen them clog sewer pipes causing backups in homes and problems at our pumping stations,” said city spokesperson Bill Eisenhauer. “The only items that should be flushed down a toilet are human waste and toilet paper.”
Kimberly-Clark Corp., the company that manufactures Cottonelle products, one of the brands named in the application, say there are numerous inaccuracies in the report and that the Ryerson study doesn’t “reflect real world forensic studies of numerous municipalities (including NYC and London) which demonstrate that virtually all of the wipes persisting in the sewers are wipes not designed or marketed to be flushed, such as baby wipes, household wipes and cosmetic wipes.
Cottonelle claims that their flushable wipes use a unique and patented technology that allows them to hold together when wet in the package and during use, but immediately start to break down when flushed down a toilet.
“We absolutely recognize that ‘non flushable wipes’ being improperly flushed are a real problem for wastewater. Where we differ most strongly with some wastewater personnel is that we believe taking these products off the market would only worsen the problem. In other words, flushable wipes are the solution to the problem of wipes accumulating in sewers,” said Terry Balluck, media relations for Kimberly-Clark Corp.