Tracking Label Requirement Still Vexes Suppliers and Distributors
In the four years since the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was signed into law, the promotional products industry has struggled mightily to figure out how to apply it to what we do every day. Nothing has come easily. Perhaps because most promotional products don't start out as children's products and perhaps because the "toys" we sell are mostly for adults, there always seems to be a "yes, but" when we try to understand CPSIA in the context of the world we live in.
Permanent tracking labels—a CPSIA requirement for children's products—provides a good example. The requirement sounds simple but in practice the details aren't so simple. Depending on what you sell, where you buy it, who makes it and how you decorate it, the tracking label requirement can be a complex burden. One thing is certain: each distributor and supplier should develop a rock-solid process for their tracking labels. This is one provision of CPSIA that could cost you a lot if you get it wrong.
Who is responsible for tracking labels? The manufacturer of the children's product. CPSIA uses the definition for manufacturer from the Consumer Product Safety Act which is "any person who manufacturers or imports a consumer product." But it can be more complicated than that. The way the promotional products business works, sometimes there are two manufacturers of a children's product and both have responsibilities for tracking labels. If a distributor buys children's-sized T-shirts from an apparel wholesaler and then contracts with a local silk screener to personalize them, even though the blank T-shirts have a tracking label from the shirt manufacturer, the distributor, by adding an imprinting process, has taken on the responsibilities of a manufacturer under CPSIA, including the responsibility for a second tracking label. The first tracking label applies only to the blank T-shirt. The second tracking label applies to the decoration. Again, not so simple.