Illinois Latest State with Wipes Labeling Law; Federal Bill Introduced

September 3, 2021 Illinois Latest State with Wipes Labeling Law; Federal Bill Introduced

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Wipes Labeling Act (SB 294) on August 6, 2021, making Illinois the third state to require “Do Not Flush” labeling on non-flushable wipes. Similar laws have been enacted in Washington (HB 2565) and Oregon (HB 2344), with wipes legislation also pending in California, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

Like the laws in Washington and Oregon, the Illinois law avoids the issue of setting flushability standards for wipes that are designed to be flushed, focusing instead on the “Do Not Flush” labeling that provides consumers with a clear message that these types of wipes should not be flushed down the toilet. The law, which goes into effect July 1, 2022 (July 1, 2023, for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectant wipes), requires manufacturers of consumer disposable wipes for sale in the state of Illinois to clearly label “Do Not Flush” on wipes that should not be flushed.

Covered Products: The new law applies to household disposable wipes, including but not limited to baby wipes, bathroom wipes, toilet cleaning wipes, hard surface cleaning wipes, hand sanitizing wipes, antibacterial wipes, facial and makeup removal wipes, general purpose cleaning wipes, personal care wipes, feminine hygiene wipes, adult incontinence wipes, adult hygiene wipes, and body cleansing wipes.

Of particular note, the Illinois law applies to disinfectant wipes that are regulated and registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  While these products must comply with the new “Do Not Flush” labeling requirements, they are provided one extra year to come into compliance because the label change must be submitted to the EPA consistent with the agency’s regulations. Further, the Illinois law provides that if the EPA or the Illinois Department of Agriculture does not approve of such a labeling change, manufacturers must use a label with as “…many of the labeling elements as the relevant agency has approved” thereby providing manufacturers of such products with flexibility.

Federal Legislation: Additionally, U.S. Representatives Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA-47) and Lisa C. McClain (R-MI-10) introduced the federal Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety Act (WIPPES, HR 4602) on July 21, 2021. This bill would direct the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, in consultation with the U.S. EPA, to issue regulations requiring wipes manufacturers to include “Do Not Flush” labeling on non-flushable wet wipes packaging.

ISSA is preparing a summary of the various state laws enacted and pending on this subject that will provide ISSA members with greater detail around the nature of the obligations created by these new “do not flush” laws. Please contact ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft for more information on wipes legislation or if you are aware of similar legislative efforts in your state.