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Planning and Economic Development

Contact: Dan Heaton

Phone: 586-201-5732

Email: Dan.Heaton@macombgov.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 07, 2020

Miller Files Suit To Change Misleading Packaging Of Wipes

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice S. Miller filed suit in Macomb County Circuit Court on May 6, seeking to get manufacturers of disposable wipes to change their labeling and marketing practices.

Many disposable wipes are labeled as being “flushable” down toilets. While they may flush down, they do not biodegrade like toilet paper, causing significant damage and expense in municipal and regional sewer systems.

“Particularly now, the last thing anyone needs is a major sewer back-up. These wipes are truly the scourge of sewer systems. They become almost like a rope, wrapping themselves around pumps and clogging up sewers, causing enormous problems,” Miller said.

In 2018, Miller’s department removed a 19-ton mass of wipes and accumulated grease that attached to the wipes from a sewer system in what became known as the Macomb County Fatberg. In 2019, Macomb County Public Works removed a 1-ton mass of wipes, dubbed the Ragball – this time just thousands of wipes that knotted up together -- from another section of sewer in the county. Together, the two incidents costs MCPWO about $100,000 to remove.

The issue is not just a Macomb County issue, however. Miller’s suit lists more than a dozen communities that have had expensive sewer repair issues due to wipes.

“Really, this is a global issue, anywhere there are municipal sewer systems,” Miller noted.

The suit names nine defendants, each a manufacturer of wipes. Together, the nine companies represent the vast majority of wipes produced and sold in the U.S.

“We are not trying to get the companies to stop making wipes. We want them to change the label and make it clear that these are not to be flushed. Some of the packages even say that they are safe to be flushed, but only one at a time. Well, the reality is, these things combine together in our systems and cause huge problems. Please, change the labels and help solve this problem,” she said.

Miller estimated that together, communities across the U.S. face millions of dollars in annual costs due to dealing with wipes. Those costs are passed on to system rate-payers.

Named as defendants in the suit are: Dude Products, Inc.; Nehemiah Manufacturing Company LLC; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; Proctor & Gamble Company; Nice-Pak Products, Inc.; Professional Disposables International, Inc.; Rockline Industries, Inc.; S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.; and C.B. Fleet Company, Inc.

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21777 Dunham Road, Clinton Township, MI, 48036

http://publicworks.macombgov.org/