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Enviro group asks Competition Bureau to probe claim of flushable’ wipes


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OTTAWA — Friends of the Earth Canada wants the Competition Bureau to investigate a recent study it says proves there is no such thing as a “flushable” wipe.

“This is the most outrageous greenwashing I’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Friends of the Earth CEO Beatrice Olivastri.

The organization, represented by lawyers at EcoJustice, is filing an application for an inquiry with the Competition Bureau, citing a recent Ryerson University study that tested 23 wipes labelled as “flushable.” Researchers found none of them actually lived up to that claim.

Two of the “flushable” products partially disintegrated in drains; 21 of them didn’t disintegrate at all.

Some of them took six flushes just to get through a toilet.

Friends of the Earth and EcoJustice want the Competition Bureau to investigate the companies for deceptive marketing practices and are asking for a $10 million fine for each of the 23 products sold as “flushable”, including baby wipes, wet wipes for adults and older kids, toilet-brush pads and wipes, diaper liners, and bags for dog poop.

Packaging on the flushable wipes claim the products to be “biodegradable,” “breaks up after flushing”, “proven to clear properly maintained toilets, drain lines, sewers and pumps” and “immediately starts to break down after flushing.”

Most of them claim to be living up to “industry” standards. Olivastri said part of the problem is there is one standard created by an international association of water utilities and professionals but another was developed by an industry association made up of the companies that make the products.

She said consumers should be able to decide for themselves which standard to trust.

Single-use wipes have become the bane of municipal sewage systems, clogging pipes and causing millions of dollars in damage and clean-up costs every year. Last year the BBC found single-use wipes were behind 80 per cent of clogs in Britain’s sewers. In Charleston, S.C. last November, divers had to swim through 30 m of raw sewage to pull giant clumps of wipes out of the sewer system. In January, officials in Bradenton, Fla., blamed wipes for causing a 45-cm sewer pipe to burst, leaking more than 300,000 litres of raw sewage into a nearby creek.

In the British seaside resort town of Sidmouth earlier this year, water operators uncovered a 64-metre-long fatberg of wet wipes and congealed fats in a sewer that will take at least eight weeks to remove.

Barry Orr, the city sewer outreach and control inspector in London, Ont., and one of the authors of the study, estimates Canadian municipalities spend at least $250 million a year to remove blockages and wipes are the main culprit.

Olivastri said the new estimate is that municipalities are spending $1 billion to replace damaged sewer equipment.

The companies that make the products, however, stand by their wipes. A statement from Kimberly-Clark, which makes Cottonelle and Scott brands of flushable wipes, disputes the findings of the Ryerson study and says there are other studies that show the wipes clogging sewers are not the ones sold as flushable.

In an emailed statement, a spokesman for the U.S. company said Kimberly-Clark flushable products begin to break down as soon as they touch water and lose 75 per cent of their strength in a residential drain line within 30 minutes of being flushed.

“The problems faced by sewer authorities are due to the improper flushing of wipes not designed to be flushed, particularly baby and surface-cleaning wipes,” the statement says.

The company says lab tests used to assess flushability are so stringent many of them fail all flushable wipes as well as regular toilet tissue.

The Ryerson study tested 101 different products, including toilet paper, and found only 17 products showed some signs of disintegration, of which 11 — the toilet papers — fully disintegrated.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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Healthy Environment & Healthy Economy
We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.
On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.
The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:
1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste
2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community
3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back
4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage
5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities
In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.
This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.
This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.
Keep an eye out for the full report next week!
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Group of large oilsands operators commit to become net zero emitters by 2050

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CALGARY — A group of the largest producers in Canada’s oilsands have announced a joint strategy to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The companies include Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd, MEG Energy Corp., and Suncor Energy Inc.

A large part of the strategy includes building a carbon sequestration facility in Cold Lake, Alta. The group says the facility would be available for other industries to use as well.

The companies also plan to pilot emerging carbon reduction technologies around oilsands operations, such as direct air capture, which uses a mechanical system to extract carbon dioxide out of the air.

The companies say the project will need significant investments and was made possible because of support programs from the federal and Alberta governments.

The group compared their plan to the Longship project in Norway, a multi-billion dollar project that includes a cross-border carbon dioxide storage and transportation facility that will be open to multiple industries and is slated to open by 2024.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CNQ, TSX:CVE, TSX:SU, TSX:IMO, TSX:MEG)

The Canadian Press

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june, 2021

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