PHOENIX -- The National Bulk Vendors Association, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and Handmade Toy Alliance, along with 37 other trade groups, are calling on Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas to hold an open hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee on the unintended consequences of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Forty trade associations endorsed a letter from the National Association of Manufacturers dated Oct. 28 urging the Arkansas Democratic Senator and the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, which he chairs, to review implementation of the CPSIA. Although a hearing was held in September, the HTA said, only one witness, Inez Tenenbaum, chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, was called to testify. "Manufacturers and retailers who are facing extinction because of this sweeping law were excluded," the association said.
Congress passed the legislation in the wake of several high-profile recalls in 2007 and 2008 of toys manufactured in China. But manufacturers, large and small, have objected to the CPSIA's extremely short timelines, and the law's failure to take into account manufacturing processes and devastating economic impact.
HTA vice-president Dan Marshall, co-owner of Peapods Natural Toys in Minnesota, said: "At this point, there is not enough time for the CPSC to issue enough rulings to help small-batch manufacturers address their compliance issues prior to the lifting of the stay on Feb. 10, 2010. Congress needs to begin an active hearing process that engages manufacturers large and small in a meaningful way and finally correct this law."
The Handmade Toy Alliance -- made up of 395 retail stores, toymakers and children's product manufacturers -- was formed a year ago to preserve consumer access to unique handmade toys, clothes and small-batch children's goods in the U.S., and to respond to the CPSIA.
For its part, the Phoenix-based National Bulk Vendors Association has been most concerned about the CPSIA's requirements for product labeling. It has vigorously argued that labeling of the small, individual toys sold through bulk venders is economically impractical and perhaps physically impossible. In June, NBVA members met with members of Congress to press for relief from the strict labeling requirement, outlined in Section 103 of the CPSIA.
In late July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission granted an exemption on labeling requirements for individual products sold through bulk vending machines. The CPSC policy statement about the subject said: "If a product is sold through a bulk vending machine, the item does not need to be individually marked but the package or carton in which such products are shipped to the retailer should be marked. The Conference Report recognized that marking each individual product in such circumstances may not be practical."
The section requires manufacturers to place permanent, distinguishing marks on children's products and packaging to help parents and retailers quickly recognize whether a toy they own or stock is the same as one involved in a recall. It was scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 14, one year after President Bush signed the CPSIA into law