Congress Should Not Overturn D.C. ‘Flushable’ Law July 8, 2017 12:54

A recent editorial, dated July 5, 2017 by the Current News staff writer entitled, "Congress Shouldn't Wipe Out D.C. ‘Flushable’ Law" addresses the power of the bathroom wet wipe lobby.  We here at Etiquette agree with this writer's perspective and we have added some additional editorial content of our own (in bold italics below).

In addition, we published a post enttiled, "False Marketing And Washington DC Wet Wipe Sewer Problems" earlier this year.

wet wipe d.c. flushable law

It’s bad enough when a member of Congress tries to meddle in the District’s local governance to advance an ideological agenda.

Now, we face the prospect of an even more dispiriting form of congressional interference. This time, Congress would be responding to direct pressure from an industry dominated by multinational corporations. At issue: the marketing claims of wet wipes.

This form of "congressional interference" is not new, corporations have allocated portions of their hefty budgets to lobby members of congress to push their agenda for, like, forever. The wet wipe lobby is well-funded and therefore, quite "persuasive;" They are well armed in their effort to overturn the D.C. flushable law.

Last year, the D.C. Council passed a law that explicitly defines “flushable” products as dissolving in water, and banning noncompliant wipes from using the term. The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority blames these wipes for clogging pipes and filtration equipment, even though the flushable label gives confidence even to conscientious residents that they’re doing no harm.

Makes sense to us. Just because an item goes down the drain when the toilet is flushed does not mean it is "flushable." Everyone knows what the term "flushable" implies. Why should a product be able to use the word "flushable" when the product results in harm because it does not break apart after it goes down the drain? This question is at the heart of the D.C. flushable law.

The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry argues that concerns are overstated and their products cause little harm, but we’re more inclined to trust DC Water on that point. We also read with amusement that Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh dispatched an industry lobbyist last year by leaving a “flushable” wipe to soak in water overnight — and seeing no deterioration. “He even poked it around with his pen,” she told The Washington Post. “I never heard from him again.”

Love it! Good for you, Mary Cheh.

Meanwhile, other critics worry that companies will simply stop selling their wipes in D.C. rather than creating special packaging without “flushable” promises. Still others say that government should stay out of the bathroom. But the alternative doesn’t seem appropriate: allowing companies to market their products as safe to flush if the claim is untrue. The law does not target users of the wipes, just the companies that sell them.

Of course government should "stay out of the bathroom." While this verbiage makes for a good slogan, to make such an argument in opposition to the D.C. flushable law is ridiculous. The government is not "in the bathroom." The government is following through on a fiduciary responsibilty to taxpayers who have to foot the bill for repairs to the wastewater treatment plant machinery and any environmental clean up from the damage caused by so-called "flushable wipes." As an illustrative example, consider if you have a septic system, and you want to flush wet wipes down your toilet. The government will not prevent you from doing so as long as you are footing the bill for any repairs to your septic system.

We recognize that the toilet-based topic of this dispute is almost comical, tailor-made for pithy punchlines. But the fact that Congress might bow to Kimberly-Clark and other industry giants to block the D.C. government from enacting local laws is no laughing matter. It’s an ugly example of an even more disgusting trend.

Congress is empowered to directly invalidate D.C. laws in various ways due to the District’s unique status, and members have repeatedly done so. But there is no basis for interfering with this local law — or any other that doesn’t affect the District’s ability to serve as the seat of government.

We hope that Congress rejects calls to meddle with the D.C. wipes law — or, at the very least, establishes nationwide rules rather than singling out the District. Furthermore, we hope that the ongoing efforts for D.C. statehood will someday put the District on equal footing with the 50 states, so our local laws won’t be uniquely controlled by out-of-state lawmakers.

We agree...If congress takes any action against the D.C. flushable law, it should be to use D.C.'s bold move as a catalyst to create nationwide regulations regarding the marketing of "flushable" products.

But why wait, when you can use Fanny Clean now! It is an effective, natural wet wipe alternative that is 100% flushable. Buy now and see for yourself. ;-)

d.c. flushable law fanny clean wipe