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AB-1672 Solid waste: flushable products.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 04/25/2019 09:00 PM
AB1672:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 25, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 11, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1672


Introduced by Assembly Member Bloom

February 22, 2019


An act to add Part 9 (commencing with Section 49650) to Division 30 of the Public Resources Code, relating to solid waste.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1672, as amended, Bloom. Solid waste: flushable products.
The California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989, administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, generally regulates the disposal, management, and recycling of solid waste.
This bill would, among other things, on or after January 1, 2021, prohibit a covered entity, as defined, from labeling a covered product as safe to flush, safe for sewer systems, or safe for septic systems, unless the product is a flushable wipe that meets certain performance standards. The bill would require nonflushable products to be labeled clearly and conspicuously to communicate that they should not be flushed, as specified. The bill would establish enforcement provisions, including authorizing a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500 per violation to be imposed on a person who violates the bill’s provisions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The intent of the Legislature in enacting this legislation is to protect public health, the environment, water quality, and public infrastructure used for the collection, transport, and treatment of wastewater.
(b) Nonwoven disposable products are increasingly being marketed by manufacturers as flushable and, as a result, are being flushed down the toilet more frequently by consumers.
(c) Nonwoven disposable products often contain microplastics.
(d) Flushing these products presents a growing problem caused by nonwoven disposable products not breaking down after being flushed down the toilet. These products can entangle with tree roots, fats, oils, grease, and other nondispersible products, causing clogs in sewer pipes. These clogs damage public infrastructure and can lead to costly and environmentally damaging sanitary sewer overflows that are a threat to public health.
(e) Nonwoven disposable products that do not disperse rapidly in the sewer can also cause damage to private sewer laterals that result in sewage backups and overflow. These products can also cause clogging in septic systems.
(f) Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to capture microplastic materials, which can pass through sewage treatment facilities into the natural environment. These microplastic materials have been shown to have negative impacts on marine life.
(g) Consequently, nonwoven disposable products that contain synthetic plastic fibers or other microplastic materials should not be marketed as flushable or sewer and septic safe.
(h) The increased maintenance needed to clean accumulations of flushed nonwoven disposable products from pipes and pumps is very costly to the public.
(i) In June 2018, a group of international wastewater infrastructure experts, known as the International Water Services Flushability Group, adopted reliable criteria for the quality and characteristics of products that can be appropriately disposed of using sanitary sewer systems.
(j) In April 2017, a group of international nonwoven fabric industry experts, known as the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry and the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association, adopted baseline labeling requirements for nonwoven disposable products.
(k) To prevent nondispersable nonwoven disposable products from entering sewer systems and potentially causing overflows, it is the intent of the Legislature to create labeling requirements that will enable consumers to easily identify which nonwoven disposable products are safe to dispose of using sanitary sewer systems.
(l) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this legislation to provide clear direction to manufacturers by setting performance requirements for nonwoven disposable products that are marketed for disposal to the sanitary sewer system.

SEC. 2.

 Part 9 (commencing with Section 49650) is added to Division 30 of the Public Resources Code, to read:

PART 9. Flushable Wipes

49650.
 For purposes of this part, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) “Covered entity” means the manufacturer of a covered product that is sold in this state or brought into the state for sale. “Covered entity” does not include a wholesaler, supplier, or retailer that is not responsible for the labeling or packaging of a covered product.
(b) “Covered product” means a nonwoven disposable product that is sold in this state or brought into the state for sale, and that is constructed from nonwoven sheets, including moist toilet tissue or cloth, that is designed, marketed, or commonly used for personal hygiene or cleaning purposes, including, but not limited to, diaper wipes, toilet wipes, household cleaning wipes, personal care wipes, and facial wipes.
(c) “Flushable wipe” means a nonwoven disposable product that meets the performance standards set forth in subdivision (f).
(d) “Labeling requirements” means the labeling standards contained in the Code of Practice of the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry and the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association, titled Communicating Appropriate Disposal Pathways for Nonwoven Wipes to Protect Wastewater Systems, second edition, as published in April 2017.
(e) “Nonflushable wipe” means a nonwoven disposable product that does not meet the performance standards set forth in subdivision (f).
(f) “Performance standards” means the International Water Services Flushability Group testing methods and criteria for flushability, as published in June 2018, as set forth in publicly available specification (PAS) documents 1, 2, and 3, and as summarized in chapters 6 and 7 of PAS document 1.

49651.
 (a) On and after January 1, 2020, 2021, a covered entity shall not label a covered product as safe to flush, safe for sewer systems, or safe for septic systems, unless the product is a flushable wipe.
(b) (1) Unless On and after January 1, 2021, unless a product is a flushable wipe, a covered entity shall not, in any manner, make any of the following representations regarding a covered product:
(A) The product can be flushed.
(B) The product is safe for sewer systems.
(C) The product is safe for septic systems.
(D) The product breaks apart shortly after flushing.
(E) The product will not clog household plumbing systems.
(F) The product will not clog household septic systems.
(G) The product is safe for plumbing.
(H) The product is safe to flush.
(I) The product will dissolve or disperse in interaction with water.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, representations include, among other things, product names, labels, endorsements, depictions, illustrations, trademarks, and trade names.
(c) On and after January 1, 2020, 2021, a covered entity shall test and maintain self-certification records that verify that its covered products meet the performance standards and comply with the labeling requirements.

49652.
 (a) (1) On and after January 1, 2020, a covered product that does not meet the performance standards shall be labeled clearly and conspicuously in adherence with the labeling requirements to communicate that it should not be flushed, and this label shall be in a high contrast font and color respective to the surrounding wording and space on the packaging and shall be in a location that is visible when individual wipes are dispensed from the product packaging.
(2) For covered products sold in bulk at retail, both the package purchased in the store and the individual packages contained within shall comply with the requirements in paragraph (1).
(b) A covered entity, directly or through any corporation, partnership, subsidiary, division, trade name, or association in connection to the manufacturing, labeling, packaging, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of a covered product, shall not make any representation, in any manner, expressly or by implication, including through the use of a product name, endorsement, depiction, illustration, trademark, or trade name, about the flushable attributes, benefits, performance, or efficacy of a nonflushable wipe.
(c) If a covered product is manufactured on or before December 31, 2019, the covered entity shall comply with this section no later than January 1, 2021.

49653.
 (a) A person who violates this part may be enjoined in any court of competent jurisdiction.
(b) (1) A person who violates this part may be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for each violation. That civil penalty may be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in any court of competent jurisdiction.
(2) In assessing the amount of a civil penalty for a violation of this part, the court shall consider all of the following:
(A) The nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violation.
(B) The violator’s past and present efforts to prevent, abate, or clean up conditions posing a threat to the public health or safety or the environment.
(C) The violator’s ability to pay the proposed penalty.
(D) The effect that the proposed penalty would have on the violator and the community as a whole.
(E) Whether the violator took good faith measures to comply with this part and when these measures were taken.
(F) The deterrent effect that the imposition of the penalty would have on both the violator and the regulated community as a whole.
(G) Any other factor that justice may require.
(c) Actions may be brought pursuant to this section by the Attorney General in the name of the people of the state, by a district attorney, by a city attorney, or by a city prosecutor in a city or city and county having a full-time city prosecutor.
(d) (1) Civil penalties collected pursuant to this section shall be paid to the office of the city attorney, city prosecutor, district attorney, or Attorney General, whichever office brought the action.
(2) Moneys collected by the Attorney General pursuant to this subdivision shall be deposited into the Unfair Competition Law Fund established pursuant to Section 17206 of the Business and Professions Code.

49654.
 The provisions of this part are severable. If any provision of this part or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.