CPSIA and Product Safety News Roundup
The big news this week was the passage of H.R. 2715 on Monday by both houses of Congress. The bill, which allows the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to exercise more discretion regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), is a common-sense amendment to a law that's been a thorn in the side of business for years. Passed by an overwhelming majority in the House and voice vote in the Senate, there's no reason to think President Obama won't sign it when it comes to his desk.
The bill will do a lot of things to help businesses, like creating "functional purpose exemptions" and allowing the sale of products manufactured before the 100 parts-per-million lead limit goes into effect next Sunday, August 14. You can download a PDF of the entire bill and review it for yourself at the House Energy and Commerce Committee's website. It's worth reading and will give you a better idea of what you, as a distributor, are responsible for regarding the products you sell.
One thing the bill doesn't do is change the permissible lead limit in the substrate of products intended for children 12 and under. In simple terms, this means that the material used to make the product itself, not just the surface coating or imprint, cannot have more than 100 ppm of lead. Any products manufactured on or after August 14 must cannot exceed that limit.
As a frame of reference, the lead limit for these children's products is currently 300 ppm. The change amounts to a 0.02% difference in the permissible lead content.
Another thing to note is that this upcoming 100 ppm change is not new: it was included in the original CPSIA draft as part of a scheduled decrease in the lead limit, which transitioned from 600 ppm to 100 ppm over three years. The CPSC's vote on July 14 to enforce the 100 ppm lead limit is just that; not the creation of a new law, but a decision to enforce the law as it was originally written.
What this ultimately means is that suppliers have known since 2008 that a 100 ppm lead limit was coming. I've spoken extensively with Rick Brenner, CEO of Prime Line, about this topic, and he agrees that suppliers have had time to bring their products up to code. Prime Line, for example, has taken this seriously for years. "We're speccing every product in our line so if it was used as a children's product, it would pass the CPSIA regulations," Rick told me a few weeks ago. "We've chosen to spec everything to be either lead-free or less than 100 parts-per-million. We've been doing that for a long time, we have our own lab installed here at Prime, we've had it since 2007."
Rick, along with Gene Geiger, CEO of Geiger, will be co-chairing the Product Safety Summit in Denver next week, where they will be discussing the CPSIA, the challenges about compliance, and what suppliers and distributors can do to help. Stay tuned next week for more about the PSS.
Prime Line isn't the only company taking this seriously, of course. This week Norwood issued a press release showing that their children's products already meet the 100 ppm limit, and in a comment on that story Maria LaFichi, executive vice president of toy supplier Zenith Promotions said, "Of course our products are compliant..and meet the lead levels. We knew this would be coming for a long time. I would like to believe that the entire industry is compliant!"
So would we all. Reading Maria's comment got me thinking, how do we know who is prepared to comply come next week? A majority of suppliers already have products that meet the 100 ppm limit (and legally, they must in order to keep selling them), but without promoting that fact no one may know. Let's get the word out.
If you're a supplier who has already revamped their product line to comply, or whose products are naturally lead-free, I encourage you to email me or leave a comment so distributors know they can trust you to provide CPSIA-safe products. And if you're a distributor who works with a supplier that deserves some recognition, tell us. The promotional products industry needs to take the lead on this dance and show that the products are not only safe, but that your clients' logos are safe on them.
I'll update this post as I hear from people. Make sure to check back at PromoMarketing.com next week for more news on product safety and compliance.