Top U.S. regulator says toy safety is improving

By Steve Toloken
Staff Reporter / Asia Bureau Chief

Published: January 16, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Consumer Products, Design

HONG KONG (Jan. 16, 3:10 p.m. ET) — Toys are much safer in the U.S. since a wave of recalls in 2007 and 2008, but manufacturers should be focusing on better toy design to continue to reduce hazards, the top U.S. toy safety regulator told a Hong Kong conference Jan. 11.

Inez Moore Tenenbaum, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told the Hong Kong Toys Industry Conference that recalls have dropped markedly, as government and industry have put more emphasis on the issue. The conference was held as part of the Hong Kong Toy Fair.

But Tenenbaum also said problems remain, and she urged toy makers now to focus on design issues such as parts that come off easily and become choking hazards.

Toy recalls in the U.S. have declined for three years, from 172 in 2008, to 50 in 2009, 46 in 2010 and 34 last year, she said.

“The toy industry has made great progress in recent years,” Tenenbaum said. “The state of toy safety is strong. It’s strong because of the actions of many of you in this room. But you cannot let your guard down because the customers in America, your largest trading market, have high expectations.”

Governments in the U.S. and Europe enacted tougher toy safety laws after some high-profile recalls in 2007, including putting in place new restrictions on phthalate levels in plastic toys and use of heavy metals.

But that’s not enough, Tenanbaum said, because most toy safety problems stem from the toy’s design.

She cited a university study that looked at toy recalls in the United States over more than a decade, and which concluded that more than 70 percent of safety problems could be traced to bad design — like sharp edges, small detachable parts, batteries that children can easily access, or buttons or string that present choking or strangling hazards. Those design problems would make a toy unsafe whether it was manufactured in China or the U.S., she said.

A Hong Kong toy industry association leader told the conference that the declining number of recalls showed that Chinese toy factories met the new regulations.

“In the past few years, we did not have any exciting toy recall news,” said Wong Tit Shing, chairman of the Toys Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. “This is a big success. I think a major factor of this success is understanding the regulations.”

Other toy industry executives said Chinese and Hong Kong plants must step up their investments in safety to meet new regulations.

Yeung Chi Kong, executive committee member of the Hong Kong Toys Council, said in a speech at the fair that new chemical safety rules from Europe and North America are big issues.

“I would really suggest factories set up your own chemical testing laboratories, to really save your costs in the long run,” said Yeung, who is also vice chairman of plastic toy maker Blue Box Group.

In the U.S., the CPSC, for its part, is expanding its presence in China, last year establishing its first office outside the United States, in Beijing.

Tenenbaum said that reflects the large role of China in manufacturing products for the U.S. market.

For example, she said that 90 percent of toys imported into the U.S. come from China. That’s a big reason, she said, for making her second consecutive January trip to speak to the Hong Kong Fair. This year’s fair was held Jan. 9-12.


Comments

Top U.S. regulator says toy safety is improving

By Steve Toloken
Staff Reporter / Asia Bureau Chief

Published: January 16, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Chinese coal mining company Jinhui launches bioplastic factory

April 21, 2014 10:18 am ET

Chinese coal mining company Shanxi Jinhui Energy Group Co. Ltd. is diversifying into bioplastics, launching production this month on a $35 million,...    More

Image

Producers urge booming Brazilian housing market to use EPS

April 18, 2014 1:08 pm ET

Leaders in Brazil's plastics industry are asking lawmakers to mandate the use of expandable polystyrene (the raw material for expanded EPS) in new...    More

JM Eagle reopens shuttered Colorado plant with 8 PVC lines

April 18, 2014 1:02 pm ET

JM Eagle has reopened its Pueblo, Colo., plant with eight PVC pipe extrusion lines back in operation following an 18-month shutdown.    More

Texas consumer group urges more science in advocacy campaigns

April 17, 2014 1:35 pm ET

WASHINGTON—The Texas Consumer Association (TCA) is raising concerns about consumer advocacy campaigns against certain chemicals and plastic...    More

Image

Envision begins production of compostable, bio-based tablecloths

April 17, 2014 12:17 pm ET

A line of eco-friendly party supplies and tableware now will include compostable tablecloths made by a Wichita, Kan.-based nonprofit that provides wor...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events