Wipe out: Another Minnesota city joins lawsuit over 'flushable wipes'


They may be labeled "flushable," but the city of Princeton, Minnesota, says a number of "wet wipe" products are anything but – and are in fact clogging their sewers.

That's why the city council there voted to join a class-action lawsuit originally filed by Wyoming, another city in Minnesota, where the wipes are apparently causing problems, according to HometownSource.com.

The news site says there are complaints about the wipes clogging the filtering screens of the city's sewage system, leading to "system shutdowns" until workers can remove them manually.

This mirrors the charges Wyoming leveled against six manufacturers of the products in its lawsuit, which it filed in a federal court in April.

City leaders have said that, despite the way they're marketed, the wipes do not degrade after they're flushed down the toilet, and create down-the-line problems that can potentially end up costing taxpayers "thousands, if not millions, of dollars of damages."

However, one of the companies being sued – Kimberly-Clark, maker of Cottonelle wipes – maintains it conducts extensive product testing and stands by the wipes' "flushability."

ConsumerReports.org did a quick video test to see how the wipes break down compared to toilet paper.

A wider problem

According to court documents posted by KSTP, Procter & Gamble and Nice-Pak Products, Inc. are among the six defendant companies named in the original lawsuit.

Wyoming filed it on behalf of "others similarly situated" by the purported flushable wipes problem; the document shows the town shares a wastewater treatment facility with Chisago, Lindstrom, and Stacy.

But these cities certainly aren't the first to complain – in March, Wadena said the wipes were causing backups in their sewage system as well.

And Minnesota apparently isn't alone.

According to a 2013 NBC Today report, the wipes are posing a problem around the country, with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies – a group that represents 300 treatment facilities – saying that they'd been hearing complaints about the products for years.

Next Up