Connecting Waterpeople

Charleston Water System resolves legal dispute with 6 wipes manufacturers and retailers

  • Charleston Water System resolves legal dispute with 6 wipes manufacturers and retailers

The U.S. public water and wastewater utility Charleston Water System (CWS) announced last week it had settled its class action lawsuit against all remaining defendant wipe manufacturers and retailers. Its legal victory promises widespread benefits for the wastewater industry, environmental conservation, and consumers alike.

Mika Saia, spokesperson for the Charleston Water System, told the press that the resolution mandates that by mid-2025, the vast majority of flushable wipes available nationwide "will truly be flushable." Additionally, packaging for all non-flushable wipes will be required to clearly indicate their unsuitability for flushing.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel approved four settlements on March 8, marking the conclusion of litigation with the final six defendants in the lawsuit. Among these defendants were industry giants such as Costco, CVS, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and Proctor & Gamble.

“When we filed this suit, only one brand of wipes was actually flushable and no product packaging offered disposal instructions that were clearly visible,” said Mark Cline, CEO at CWS. “We’ve won a very significant battle, as wipes have been public enemy number one for the entire wastewater industry since they were invented.” 

The legal action dates back to January 2021 when the Charleston Water System filed suit against major U.S. companies, seeking injunctive relief to address the costly and persistent damage inflicted on sewer systems and treatment facilities. The core of the issue lay in the failure of allegedly "flushable" wipes to disintegrate, leading to frequent clogs in wastewater infrastructure and environmentally harmful sewer overflows.

 Its legal victory promises widespread benefits for the wastewater industry, environmental conservation, and consumers alike

Cline added, “We knew this litigation would be tough and that the stakes were high for these international corporations, so we’re extremely pleased with the skilled work of our counsel. These settlements bring significant benefits to wastewater utilities nationwide and their customers, while reinforcing these company’s commitments to being good corporate and environmental stewards. It’s a major step forward for us and the whole country in that respect.”

Charleston Water System explains that the settlements commit the defendants to meet an international flushability standard endorsed by the wastewater industry. Additionally, the defendants are required to undergo two years of confirmatory performance testing and implement substantial labeling improvements for non-flushable wipes.

“In addition to the relief to wastewater system operators, the settlements will provide economic benefits to rate payers, benefits to consumers in the form of product improvements and enhanced labeling, and benefits to the public by reducing the likelihood of residential plumbing clogs.”

These settlements encompass products that hold a considerable share of the flushable-wipes market. They are poised to alleviate the accumulation of wipes in sewage systems, mitigate the financial burdens associated with addressing wipes-related clogs, and streamline preventive measures to safeguard against future blockages.

The resolution of this legal dispute marks a significant stride toward environmental sustainability and underscores the importance of corporate responsibility in safeguarding our natural resources.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Topics of interest

The data provided will be treated by iAgua Conocimiento, SL for the purpose of sending emails with updated information and occasionally on products and / or services of interest. For this we need you to check the following box to grant your consent. Remember that at any time you can exercise your rights of access, rectification and elimination of this data. You can consult all the additional and detailed information about Data Protection.

Featured news