A major manufacturer of cleaning products is suing the District of Columbia over what its in-house counsel calls a “fatally flawed” ban on the marketing of “flushable” sanitary wipes, Washington’s WTOP Radio reported Thursday.
Kimberly-Clark’s filing with the federal district court in D.C. pursues multiple avenues of attack, arguing that the city’s new law — the “Nonwoven Disposable Products Act of 2016” — should be flushed down the drain for violating the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause and the company’s free-speech rights.
“Under the First Amendment, government regulation that discriminates against targeted speakers and disfavored content is presumptively invalid and subject to heightened scrutiny,” the court filing read.
But the sponsor of the new law said it’s a reasonable regulation to prevent Kimberly-Clark and other manufacturers from profiting while city taxpayers foot the cleanup bill.
“People will flush them down the toilet and what happens is, it clogs up the drains so severely that we spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to deal with that,” said Councilwoman Mary Cheh, WTOP reported. “So they are offloading the cost of what they’re doing onto the public through the water and sewer fees.”
For its part, the Irving, Texas-based manufacturer is also appealing to the court of public opinion, with the company’s deputy general counsel Kyle Kappes laying out the company’s arguments in a recent YouTube video.
“Kimberly-Clark believes that this law is fatally flawed because it threatens conduct protected by the U.S. Constitution,” Mr. Kappes said in the video.
“We also believe the law will unfairly and unwisely limit consumers’ rights to choose innovative products that have been proven to effectively meet their needs without causing or contributing to clogs,” he said, adding that the company’s product meets Federal Trade Commission standards.
“In seeking court intervention, we are fighting for our consumers and standing up for our brands,” Mr. Kappes said, arguing that “improved consumer education” was a “better solution” than “passing a law that seeks to restrict products that actually alleviate” burdens on city sewer systems.