A great letter written about the new CPSIA by Molly from The Little Seedling:
In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick.
The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.
While we all applauded efforts by the federal government to tighten the safety standards for toys, we all got much more than we bargained for. The law that was passed extends to all products directed to children 12 years of age and younger, and includes such things as clothing & toys and much more, with very few exceptions or exemptions. That wouldn't be so bad, but there are a few requirements that, if left as is, will force most small businesses (and many medium & large sized businesses) out of business....including retailers, and work at home moms.
How this affects retailers and manufactures:
1. Existing Inventory: The law states that any affected product that does not meet the new standard (with the exception of phthalates) cannot be sold from the shelves after February 10th 2009. The problem is that the law includes many new items that have not been under a previous regulation, and have not been tested. To test these items now, on the retail or wholesale level is prohibitively expensive, and/or simply not possible. So it is very difficult to confirm compliance (although most items in most companies would be compliant), and at the same time, penalties for selling anything that doesn't meet the standard are very stiff. The options for anyone with inventory are not pleasant.
2. 3rd Party Testing by SKU: The law will require 3rd party testing in the future for each sku (or style). The large pair of jeans have to be tested separately from the medium size of jeans...even though all materials are the same. This makes testing prohibitively (impossibly) expensive. There are other ways to form a testing regimen and be just as satisfied with the results.
3. Markings: All products manufactured after August 12th, 2009 must have markings on the package and permanent markings on the product indicating where, by whom, and when the product was made. Large corporations can afford purchasing multiple dies to do this. Small companies cannot. European companies with limited sales to the USA likewise cannot.
4. Complexity: The law is extremely complex. Needlessly so. It is requiring companies to hire lawyers just to get a grasp of what is required of them. Also, the requirement of including certificates of compliance of each product shipped, with each product is overly burdensome. Electronic certificates has been approved, and will help, but even then there is a substantial cost to the additional administration---which does very little, if anything, to improve the safety of our toys.
5. Frequency of Testing: We are still trying to get a clear grasp of this. However, it is very possible that each batch must be tested/certified. This is fine for large companies running 10,000 or 100,000 pieces per batch. For small manufacturers, with small runs, it multiplies the enormous cost from point #2, even higher.
What this means is small, innovative companies that typically make niche products, will be forced out of business, or forced to narrow their product range and sell to the mass market. Product availability and selection will diminish. We will be primarily left with imported plastic toys from China. Yes, quite ironic isn't it.
URGENT Action:The Subcommittee that put this law together is meeting to review its implementation on Wednesday. We need to send a message to them to revise the law or its implementation in ways that will maintain the integrity of the safety standards, but will not decimate the children's products market. Here are the details of the meeting:
The Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing on Wednesday, December 10, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled "Implementation of the CPSIA: Urgent Questions about Application Dates, Testing and Certification, and Protecting Children." This is an oversight hearing examining implementation of Public Law 110-314 (H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)). Witnesses will be by invitation only.
The staff briefing for this hearing will be held on Monday, December 8, 2008, at 4:00 p.m. in room 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.
Here is a link to the list of Committee Members. Please contact your Representative of Congress. If any one of these Representatives on the Subcommittee is YOUR representative, PLEASE be sure to call & email them to voice your concerns about the provisions in the law as they affect you and the children's products industry in general. Please do this today and Monday. Here is the contact information at the CPSC...please contact them with your concerns too.
Here is a link to some suggestions for talking to our representatives from WAHM Solutions. What else can you do? Pass this on in your blogs, your parent groups, your local community lists, among your friends. There is much misinformation in the market, and it is up to us to warn consumers and colleagues of the pending disappearance of the natural & specialty toys we have come to rely on in the recent years. Sign petitions, and pass the link on to friends.
This is a critical time to raise our voices and be heard. Please do not say it can wait until next week, or after Christmas. Important issues that affect us will be discussed in a public way next week...NOT after Christmas.
What else can you do? If you are a crafter join the Handmade Toy Alliance, join the online community cpsia-central and become informed & involved. Contact the media, discuss this in forums and in your own online communities. It isn't just our businesses that are at risk, it is the very nature of the toys & products our children & grandchildren will have access to in the future.
Please pass this on!