Kimberly-Clark Corp. has reached a settlement over its so-called “flushable” wipes that will include better labeling, manufacturing improvements and two years of testing -- a win for U.S. cities and counties that say the products have sparked a rise in costly sewer blockages.
As part of the proposed settlement with the water management system of Charleston, South Carolina, the maker of Scott toilet paper has agreed that its Cottonelle wipes labeled as “flushable” will meet the wastewater industry’s standards by May 2022. The lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark and other wipes manufacturers and retailers accuses the companies of selling “flushable” products that fail to disintegrate like toilet paper.
Kimberly-Clark isn’t admitting any fault or wrongdoing under the settlement, a copy of which was sent to Bloomberg News by the Charleston Water System. Litigation against other companies in the lawsuit continues, including Costco Wholesale Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., CVS Health Corp., Target Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Walmart Inc.
In a statement to Bloomberg News, Kimberly-Clark said it “has committed to even further improving the performance” of its flushable wipes under the settlement. The company said that its Cottonelle wipes already “pass widely accepted flushability specifications and are tested with plumbers.”
The company also referred to a statement on the Charleston Water System website, dated April 25, that says Cottonelle’s wipes are the only ones that are safe for the city’s sewer system. Kimberly-Clark declined to disclose any financial details about the cost of modifications to its manufacturing.
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