"Don't Flush Baby Wipes" Pilot Education Campaign

n 2013 and 2014, the Maine Water Environment Association (MEWEA) implemented a pilot education campaign that will benefit every wastewater utility or district that has faced POTW interference due to improper disposal of baby wipes.

Most of you know that MEWEA has been working hard to deal with the issue of non-dispersibles: products marketed or advertised as “flushable” that don’t break down like toilet paper or products that are not flushable but are flushed by confused consumers.  We’ve been compiling information and resources on this topic on our Pump Clog and Non-Dispersibles page, even including links to articles from around the world.

If you’ve been reading the MEWEA newsletters, you also know that we kicked off a Pilot Education Campaign in September 2013  in conjunction with the Association of Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA), with the message “Don’t Flush Baby Wipes”.  This Pilot Education Campaign is one of the pieces INDA committed to in lieu of State legislation (Maine LD 781) being passed, which would have required consistency and transparency in the testing, labeling, and marketing of “flushable” wipes.  Our team was due to complete this by November 2013 and report back to the Maine legislature in January 2014, but we received an extension to this schedule.

WEFNACWA, and APWA– and our other partners from coast-to-coast- have been engaged and supportive of us as we’ve developed this project.

The Pilot Education Campaign used the advertising/marketing firm of Burgess Advertising & Marketing to perform market research, optimize the communication message, produce the media, buy and coordinate the media placement, and measure the effectiveness of the message with pre- and post-campaign research.  The Campaign, including purchasing eight weeks of air time through Time Warner Cable, cost $113,000.

INDA provided funding for a large portion of the work, but MEWEA committed to contributing $15,000 so that we have a continued say in the scope and implementation of the Campaign. The project cost of, however, was nearly equal to our operating budget for an entire year.  To accomplish our goal, we reached out to our members and partners that have benefited from (or support) Maine’s efforts on this issue, and asked for donations toward the Campaign. MEWEA established a dedicated account that was used in its entirety to fund this specific project.

We were able to raise our $15,000 goal, but continue to accept donations toward this work.  Contact Aubrey Strause with questions.  (Thanks in advance for your support of our project!)

We documented news and updates related to the campaign as development progressed.

As of May 2014, the pilot campaign has been completed, and was considered successful.  We are presently compiling data, and expect to write a paper in conjunction with our partners that summarizes the key successes of the campaign for the benefit of other organizations.

Visit the links at the top of this page to see the creative materials that were developed and download them for your own use.