FTC to wipes maker: Back up your claims, not buyers’ pipes

A royal flush? More like a royal pain for consumers who trusted claims that moist flushable wipes manufactured by trade supplier Nice-Pak were safe for home plumbing systems. According to an FTC complaint, the wipes were made of a non-woven fabric that didn’t break down as quickly and easily as advertised, rendering that “flushable” claim a pipe dream – or maybe a pipe nightmare if your sewer or septic system got clogged as a result.

Suffice it to say that some consumers choose to use a little something extra in the loo. The problem, of course, is disposal. So it’s no wonder that buyers would be interested in a product promoted as “safe for sewer and septic” systems because it “breaks apart after flushing.”

Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate during flushing, Nice-Pak’s wipes were made of materials – including some plastic-based components – that didn’t break down as quickly. We’ll spare you the details, but once those squares disappeared down the drain, the going wasn’t always easy. According to the the complaint, the wipes could clog home plumbing and septic systems, public sewer systems, and sewage treatment plant systems. That's why the FTC says the company's claims were just plumb deceptive.

Unfamiliar with the Nice-Pak name? There’s a count in the complaint that bears business attention. The wipes manufactured by the Orangeburg, New York, company were sold by national retailers like Costco, CVS, Target, and BJ’s under a variety of private label names. The FTC alleges that Nice-Pak disseminated to its trade customers materials purporting to substantiate claims for the wipes, but the tests didn’t accurately reflect real-world conditions. Thus, the complaint charges that Nice-Pak provided its trade customers with the “means and instrumentalities” – advertising, packaging, labeling etc. – “for the commission of deceptive acts and practices.” (As FTC watchers know, a "means and instrumentalities" count is pretty common in circumstances like this.)

The proposed order prohibits Nice-Pak from making claims about any moist toilet tissue unless the company has competent and reliable evidence to support them. The order also requires Nice-Pak to contact its private label customers about the claims challenged in the FTC’s complaint as deceptive.

You can file a comment about the proposed order by June 19, 2015.

 

Comments

As a management agent for 20,000 apartment units in 10 states, we feel competent to report a HUGE increase in plumbing backups since the Wipes industry took off. Every backup is a terrible inconvenience to not only the resident using the wipe, but their neighbors. Our residents simply refuse to believe us that Wipes are the reason behind their back-ups since they are marketed as "flushable". We strongly support the FTC regulating false claims by wipes manufacturers. Thank you.

I believe (lol) that the more straight forward we are and stop the loop holes; that we will have better products and less law suits because of less fraud. Laws need to address the issue and not wait for disaster so to speak. And when I believe comes into play, we should listen. :)

It's down the drain and out of site. Much like the Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) programs around the country. The invention of the garbage disposers is to blame for much of problems regarding FOG. It's about public education. If the public was more aware of the problems they cause by flushing everything down the drain they may take more responsibility towards prevention. It's easier to rinse them down the drain than to wrap it up and dispose of it in the garbage.

Yes, indeed, ALL of these wipes wreak havoc on sewerage systems. We have independently (and unofficially) tested every different type of toilet paper and 'flushable' wipe available in local stores in our small city. 80% of the toilet papers fared well, and 0% of the wipes EVER broke down to levels that would equal that of the worst performing toilet paper.

For anyone, or any company, to suggest that any thicker, wipe type product will break down and be safe for sewerage systems is a blatant falsehood.

I'm glad that someone, on a national level, is involved. In the grand scheme, yes, this is relatively good for my business, but ultimately the end user will pay at least twice. I will get the owners' pipes clean and functional again, but the city or private sewer network owner will have to invest massive amounts in maintenance and repair as well. And those costs will also be paid by the end user, eventually.

They don't breakdown in the pipes. stop selling them.

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