ASSEMBLY, No. 3119

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JULY 1, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  DAVID W. WOLFE

District 10 (Monmouth and Ocean)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires third party testing and certification prior to advertising, packaging, or labeling a product as “flushable.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning representations as to the flushability of consumer products, and supplementing Title 13 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Flushable Consumer Products Act.”

 

     2.    a.  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     (1)   There is currently no consistent or widely accepted definition of what constitutes a “flushable” consumer product, and as a result, companies have used their own definitions and methods to determine the flushability of their products, leaving consumers and wastewater agencies without any single reference point from which to assess product flushability.

     (2)   This lack of consistency has led to confusion and a lack of clarity in the marketplace as to the appropriateness of disposing certain products via plumbing systems, and where such confusion exists, there is a higher risk that nonflushable products will be flushed down a toilet, resulting in extraordinary maintenance problems for sanitary sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants, and necessitating costly plumbing repairs.

     (3)   Products that are poorly designed to be flushed down the toilet can cause sewer blockages that damage sewer lines and lead to costly sanitary sewer overflows, which, in turn, can present a danger to public health and the environment.

     (4)   A build-up of nonflushable products has been shown to cause clogs in sewage pumps, lead to entanglements in sewage treatment equipment and sewer backups in residences, and increase the risk of sanitary sewer overflow during a storm.

     (5)   An increasing concern among public wastewater agencies is the prevalence of consumer products, found in sewage infrastructure around the State, which do not break down and disintegrate after being flushed into the toilet.

     (6)   The increased maintenance needed to address problems caused by the flushing of nonflushable products is very costly to public wastewater agencies.

     (7)   It is in the best interests of manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and regulators, as well as wastewater treatment managers and operators, that there be established a clear and consistent standard for determining and verifying product flushability.

     b.    The Legislature therefore determines that, in order to prevent nondispersible or poorly dispersible products from entering sewer systems and potentially causing overflows and other environmental and public health problems, and in order both to assist manufacturers when advertising, packaging, and labeling their products, and to enable consumers to recognize which products are safe to dispose via the plumbing system, it is both necessary and proper to identify what constitutes a “flushable” product.

 

     3.    a.  No person shall advertise, package, or label a consumer product for distribution or sale in New Jersey if the advertisement, package, or label, as the case may be, states that the product is flushable or sewer and septic safe, or otherwise indicates, through the use of another similar term or phrase, that the product may be properly disposed of in a toilet, unless the product has first been tested and certified by a third party to meet the acceptance criteria for toilet, drainline, sewage pump, septic tank, aerobic system, and municipal wastewater collection and treatment system clearance as provided in the “Guidance Document for Assessing the Flushability of Nonwoven Consumer Products,” published by the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA). 

     b.    A person who advertises, packages, or labels a product for distribution or sale in New Jersey, which advertisement, package, or label, as the case may be, states that the product is flushable or sewer and septic safe, or otherwise indicates, through the use of another similar term or phrase, that the product may be properly disposed of in a toilet, shall maintain written documentation of the results of third party testing, undertaken in accordance with subsection a. of this section, which substantiates the validity of the claim.

     c.     The provisions of this section shall not apply to a person who does not initiate a representation as to product flushability or sewer and septic safety through means of advertising or product packaging or labeling.

     d.    A person who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,500, to be sued for and recovered by the Department of Environmental Protection, in accordance with the provisions of the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.). 

 

     4.    This act shall take effect one year following the date of its enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would require the use of a single standard to determine the “flushability” of consumer products, so as to reduce the instances of sewer or septic blockages, sanitary sewer overflows, and sewer or septic back-ups in residences, which occur as a result of the improper disposal of non-dispersible or non-degradable products, such as disposable diapers, household wipes, and medical products.

     In particular, commencing one year after enactment, this bill would prohibit a person from advertising, packaging, or labeling a consumer product for distribution or sale in New Jersey if the advertisement, package, or label, as the case may be, states that the product is flushable or sewer and septic safe, or otherwise indicates, through the use of another similar term or phrase, that the product may be properly disposed of in a toilet, unless the product is first subjected to third party testing and is certified to meet specified criteria as identified by the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry in its “Guidance Document for Assessing the Flushability of Nonwoven Consumer Products.”  The bill would require any person who advertises, packages, or labels a product for distribution or sale in the State, which advertisement, package, or label, as the case may be, indicates the flushability or the sewer and septic safety of the product, to maintain written documentation of the results of third party testing in order to substantiate the claim that the product is flushable or sewer and septic safe. 

     A person violating the bill’s provisions would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,500.  However, the bill would not apply to persons who do not initiate, through advertising, or through product packaging or labeling, a representation as to a product’s flushability or sewer and septic safety.