Kimberly-Clark Australia, Pental and Pental Products are being taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for making false or misleading claims about their Kleenex Cottonelle and White King “flushable wipes”.

The ACCC alleges claims made for these products – such as “flushable”, “able to be flushed in the toilet” and able to “break down in sewerage system or septic tank” – were misleading as a consumer might think the product would disintegrate in a similar fashion to toilet paper, but this was not the case. As a result, Australian water authorities are facing problems with household and municipal sewerage systems becoming blocked. It’s a similar situation in New Zealand where wipes are leading to costly wastewater problems and plumbing bills for consumers.

In 2015, Australian consumer group Choice and Consumer NZ tested 11 flushable wipes and regular toilet paper in an agitator designed to replicate the wastewater system. Within minutes the toilet paper started to break down, but after 70 minutes all the flushable wipes were still intact, apart from the occasional small tear.

Consumer NZ recommends people never flush “flushable” wipes.