Wipes Labelling Act Signed in Illinois

Bipartisan law that requires proper labeling on non-flushable wipes will go into effect on July 1, 2022,

On Friday, August 20, 2021, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Senate Bill 294, known as the Wipes Labelling Act, which now requires manufacturers of household disposable wipes for sale in the state of Illinois to clearly label “Do Not Flush” on wipes that should not be flushed down the toilet. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2022.

The bill was first introduced February 2021 and has received wide support from Illinois wastewater agencies as well as organizations within the wipes industry. Illinois is one of the impacted states where municipalities during the Covid-19 pandemic have experienced increased volumes of wipes in their sewer and treatment systems that contribute to clogs and other operational disruptions.

“The impact of non-flushable wipes on public wastewater systems grows more problematic and expensive to ratepayers with each passing day,” says Brandon Janes, president of the Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies. “We are proud to have worked with our partners in the wipes manufacturing industry to put Illinois at the forefront of the nation in addressing this serious issue.”

Illinois is the third state to enact legislation on labeling of non-flushable wipes. In June, similar legislation was signed into law in Oregon, continuing the momentum around the Responsible Flushing Alliance’s campaign to equip consumers with more tools to make responsible flushing decisions. Washington State was the first to enact wipes legislation in March 2020.

“Prominent disposal labelling is essential in educating consumers on flushable versus non-flushable products, and we are pleased this legislation has passed in Illinois,” says Lara Wyss, president of the Responsible Flushing Alliance. “Through our #FlushSmart consumer education initiatives, the Responsible Flushing Alliance advocates for the same public awareness around smart flushing habits that is championed in this legislation. Clear labeling is a critical step in helping consumers practice responsible flushing habits, which in turn leads to healthier homes and communities for all of us.”

Launched this year, the #FlushSmart national campaign instructs consumers to look for the “Do Not Flush” symbol on product packaging and labelling to identify materials that should not be flushed down the toilet.

Some examples of non-flushable wipes that warrant the Do Not Flush labeling include baby wipes, cosmetic or facial wipes, hard surface cleaning or sanitizing wipes, floor cleaning wipes, make-up wipes and bath wipes. There are also non-flushable items contributing to clogs that shouldn’t be flushed, such as paper towels, menstrual products, cotton swabs, dental floss, rags, FOG (fats/oil/grease).