Associations to launch improved 'flushability' guidelines to reduce improper disposals

A group of five associations, representing the water sector and the nonwoven fabrics industry, announced that they are working on the joint development of a new edition of guidelines that will influence product design and support the marketing of nonwoven products as "flushable," with no adverse effects on wastewater systems.

CARY, NC, and WASHINGTON, DC, March 20, 2015 -- On Thursday, March 19, a group of five associations, representing the water sector and the nonwoven fabrics industry, announced that they are working collaboratively on the joint development of a new edition of guidelines that will influence product design and support the marketing of nonwoven products as "flushable," with no adverse effects on wastewater systems.

The associations also announced a meeting to take place on Thursday, March 26th, in Washington, D.C., where they will explore the establishment of a collaborative product stewardship initiative to promote greater responsibility for the proper disposal of nonwoven products, including wipes not designed to be flushed.

The group, which includes INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry; National Association of Clean Water Agencies; American Public Works Association; Water Environment Federation; and Canadian Water & Wastewater Association, began developing the new "Fourth Edition" guidelines on January 27, 2015 and is scheduled to complete the process by July, 2016.

The guidelines will build on the framework of the "Third Edition Guidance Document for Assessing the Flushability of Nonwoven Disposable Products," which is the current voluntary guidance used by the wipes industry. The Third Edition document represents a reasonable framework to which new information and collaborative sharing of technical expertise between the wastewater sector and the nonwoven fabrics industry should be applied to further improve the flushability guidelines.

The primary goal for the March 26th meeting will be to explore opportunities to increase public and consumer awareness about the proper disposal of the nonwoven wipes products, as well as to increase the wipes industry's responsibility over downstream impacts of these products. The meeting will include wastewater sector representatives, as well as the sustainability and marketing leaders of the nonwoven fabrics industry.

As a group, the associations would like to see improvement in the labeling of wipes that are not designed to be flushed, as well as the development of strategies for a broader consumer education effort about the proper disposal of wipes. The intent is for the associations to develop a roadmap for future activities, including improved product labeling, increased public education and better consumer information regarding product flushability.

Depending on the directions developed during the product stewardship process, the initiative could be expanded to include other consumer products that are commonly flushed and cause problems in wastewater systems, such as paper towels, feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, and other materials.

See also:

"Water Groups Rally Around 'No-Flush' Initiative"

"Partnership to help reduce non-flushable items in wastewater systems"

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