Competition bureau investigating claims made by makers of ‘flushable’ wipes

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OTTAWA — The Competition Bureau of Canada is investigating the marketing practices of companies that make “flushable” wipes.

Friends of the Earth Canada and EcoJustice filed a complaint about the claims earlier this year after a Ryerson University study found 23 varieties of wipe labelled as “flushable” did not live up to that claim.

The organizations heard recently the bureau is taking on the case and has started interviewing relevant parties.

Canadian municipalities estimate it costs them at least $250 million a year to remove giant sewer clogs known as fatbergs that are created when wipes and other solids that don’t disintegrate get glued together with substances such as kitchen grease.

Manufactures of the wipes argue the problems plaguing city sewer lines are from people flushing wipes that are not marketed as flushable, like baby wipes and cleaning cloths.

In June the Federal Court of Australia ruled against a consumer-watchdog complaint about flushable wipes, saying while there might be some evidence the wipes caused harm to household sewer systems, they were not the only culprit.