We are have two small children and we are a retailer (http://milagrosboutique.com).
When you look at the issues that emerged last year, there were two common threads. First, every recalled toy was made in China:
Second of all, the facilities that actually made the toys in question were independent overseas contractors. The US-based toy companies that contracted these factories had limited objective oversight on safety and factory conditions. However these companies were active in trying to get production services at as low a cost as possible. Lack of oversight plus a lowest cost expectation created a perverse incentive for contractors to try and "cheat the system".
Why was lead in the paint on toys? It is a cheap paint additive that lessens the overall expense. This same dynamic is what resulted in toxic pet food and, more recently, dairy products.
This highlights what is missing in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA): clear and substantial fines for noncompliance with safety standards.
At its core, the "toxic toy" issue is one that emerged from companies focusing on cost savings at the expense of other concerns such as safety and quality. The best way to combat that perverse incentive legislatively is to "head it off at the pass". Yes, there should be more testing and opportunities to determine non-compliance, but the financial penalty for non-compliance by a company who puts cost before safety should be a palpable threat its bottom-line. Basically companies should think twice before turning a blind eye to how their product is being made.
Instead the CPSIA relies solely on a labeling and testing requirement that may be willfully circumvented - since it may still be cheaper to not comply or game the system somehow.
Another effect of the CPSIA that has been noted before is that it passes on an expense that will be substantial for small companies and it may cull responsible manufacturers from the marketplace as a result.
For instance, all of the wood toy lines we carry at Milagros are made in USA. More importantly, these toys are designed and manufactured by the companies or individuals themselves - no third parties are involved.
They source all the materials, they have full control of every step of the manufacturing process and they are fully responsible for it. There is no passing of the buck to a contracted facility and there is an overall level of quality and responsibility that you can count on. This ethic is reflected in statements like this from one our vendors:
Toys are a very small part of our business so I doubt the CPSIA will have much effect on us but having heard from one of our vendors that that may be pulling out of the market because of the CPSIA, it is hard not to be very, very bothered by what is to come.
Ultimately, it is more than ironic that the folks who will pay the price for the "mistakes" made by Chinese manufacturers will be small, responsible companies who have maintained control of their supply chain and their manufacturing practices; it is a travesty.
posted 4 years, 5 months ago
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