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Macomb Co.'s Miller sues to get flushable wipes makers to change labeling, marketing

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice S. Miller said Wednesday she has filed a lawsuit to get disposable wipe makers to change their labeling and marketing practices.

She said many of the wipes are labeled as being flushable down toilets, but they don't biodegrade like toilet paper, causing significant damage and expense in sewer systems. Miller filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit. 

Macomb County officials said this mass of fats, oil, grease, waste and solids was removed from a sewer line.

“Particularly now, the last thing anyone needs is a major sewer back-up," Miller said in a statement. "These wipes are truly the scourge of sewer systems. They become almost like a rope, wrapping themselves around pumps and clogging up sewers, causing enormous problems."

Her lawsuit names nine wipes manufacturers that make the majority of wipes sold in the U.S. as defendants. Named in the suit are: Dude Products Inc.; Nehemiah Manufacturing Company LLC; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; Proctor & Gamble Company; Nice-Pak Products, Inc.; Professional Disposables International Inc.; Rockline Industries Inc.; S.C. Johnson & Son Inc.; and C.B. Fleet Company Inc.

“We are not trying to get the companies to stop making wipes," Miller said. "We want them to change the label and make it clear that these are not to be flushed. Some of the packages even say that they are safe to be flushed, but only one at a time. Well, the reality is, these things combine together in our systems and cause huge problems. Please, change the labels and help solve this problem.” 

Miller cites a 19-ton mass of wipes and accumulated grease and a 1-ton mass of wipes that were removed from Macomb County's sewer system in 2018 and in 2019 as examples. She said the two masses cost her office about $100,000 to remove.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez