Legislation enacted by California, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington requires labels for disposable wipes to contain specific symbols and statements to clearly indicate they are not flushable. The intent of such legislation is to help consumers easily identify the difference between flushable and non-flushable wipes, ultimately protecting water quality and public wastewater systems. According to the U.S. EPA, non-flushable wipes can potentially clog toilets, create sewer backups, and significantly damage pipes and wastewater treatment equipment.
Determining if Your Product is Subject to This Legislation:
The definition of a “covered product” may slightly vary amongst states, as follows:
Products covered under the scope of the definitions outlined above must comply with label requirements set forth in each state’s respective legislation.
While specific text within each state’s legislation varies, the following general label requirements apply:
- The Do Not Flush symbol referenced below (or a gender equivalent) must appear in high contrast on the principal display panel, in a prominent location viewable each time a wipe is dispensed. The size of the symbol must be a minimum of 2% of the surface area of the principal display panel’s size. When the symbol also appears on the flip lid of a cylindrical package, it must be either high contrast or embossed, and must be a minimum size of 8% of the flip lid’s surface area.
- The statement “Do Not Flush” must appear in high contrast on a specific location of the label based on packaging type. Manufacturers may choose between several location options set forth in the legislation. The size of the symbol must be a minimum of 2% of the surface area of the principal display panel’s size. When the statement appears on the flip lid of a cylindrical package, it must be a minimum size of 8% of the flip lid’s surface area. Special requirements apply to the type size of the “Do Not Flush” statement for products regulated under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) and for products regulated under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; pesticides).
- Primary Display Panel: This panel of the product package is most likely to be displayed for retail sale. Measurement of this panel is specific to packaging type:
- Cylindrical/near cylindrical packages:
- 40% x (container height x container circumference)
- Flexible Film Package that houses a rectangular/near rectangular prism stack of wipes:
- Length x Width of the side of the package when film is pressed flat against all sides of the stack of wipes
- High Contrast: The “Do Not Flush” statement and symbol must have a minimum 70% contrast with the immediate background. While the legislation prescribes a specific formula to determine contrast, a black logo on a solid white background (or the reverse), is generally acceptable.
As there are specific options and requirements set forth in the legislation based on packaging, we strongly recommend working with an experienced regulatory consultant to ensure compliance before or by the effective dates.
Deadline to Comply
Most products must comply with these labeling requirements by 07/01/2022.
Compliant labels for EPA-registered products are required to be submitted to U.S. EPA by 01/01/2023 (California) and 07/01/2023 (Illinois and Oregon), while Washington’s legislation states the act takes effect beginning 07/01/2023.
We recommend incorporating the symbol and notice onto your labels as soon as possible to ensure compliance before the deadlines and avoid any potential fines or penalties.
Penalty for Non-Compliance
Enforcement authority for non-compliance lies within each city, county, or district providing wastewater services. Each city, county, or district may individually issue penalties for violative products being sold within their district.
California also requires covered entities to participate in the California Consumer Education and Outreach Program. Requirements for covered entities include, but are not limited to:
- Participation in a collection study coordinated by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.
- Conduct a consumer survey surrounding the flushing and disposal of non-flushable wipes.
- Promote consumer awareness and education of the “Do Not Flush” notice and symbol.
Contact your SRC Consultant to ensure compliance by 07/01/2022 and 01/01/2023.
*This article is a summary of issued legislation and is not intended to be an exhaustive guide for complying with the requirements. Review the actual legislation for the full list of requirements.
Posted on 02/14/2022