Lawmakers: We're Out To Stop Manufacturers From Engaging In False Advertising

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Flushing wet wipes down the toilet can wreak havoc on plumbing and sewer systems.

But there may soon be action taken in New York City to solve the problem, CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported Thursday.

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It’s not your fault. The package said it was flushable, so maybe you flushed one or two.

Legislation from City Councilmen Donovan Richards of Queens and Antonio Reynoso of Brooklyn would stop manufacturers from engaging in what the lawmakers say is false advertising, if they want to sell their products in the city.

“You should be disposing of these things in your trash can. And you can’t totally blame the consumer for this because they’re getting these wipes that say flushable, but the manufacturers have made this up,” Richards said.

“Consumers are thinking they’re doing something that’s not wrong, or not causing any harm by letting the non-flushable wipes go down the toilet,” Reynoso added. “They wouldn’t be able to label things that are not flushable, flushable.”

The truth is wipes do not break down easily like toilet paper, and with their growing popularity comes a growing problem: they never really go away.

Wipes are a $6 billion industry, and they can create a big, expensive mess when they end up at waste water treatment plants like the Newtown Creek facility in Brooklyn, which actually has a special machine just to remove them, Rincon reported.

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“They’re spending money and investing in something that’s a big problem when they shouldn’t have to,” Reynoso said.

According to Richards, the screen system used to filter out all the wipes, like the one at Newtown Creek, costs the city $3 million per year.

“And I know for areas that we represent, they can certainly use $3 million to fix infrastructure up in their communities, so this is a waste of the taxpayers’ dollar,” Richards said.

Richards also represents parts of eastern Queens, where flooding can be a problem if storm water isn’t draining.

“And this all contributes to it,” Richards said of wipes.

So, what’s the bottom line?

“It’s common sense; if it’s gonna clog your pipe then don’t use the wipe,” Richardson told 1010 WINS.

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Manufacturers who label their products flushable when they are not would face a $5,000 fine under the legislation proposed by Edwards and Reynoso, Rincon reported.