Early in the new year a new law will go into effect in the US that may have severely damaging effects on small, independent toy makers.
The new law, called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, was designed to prevent unsafe toys (like the made in China toys that seemed to be under constant recall last year) from entering the marketplace. Unfortunately, it appears that the new law is a blanket law that will impose strict mandatory testing of all toys in the marketplace, regardless of where they are made.
A group called the Handmade Toy Alliance fears that this will have a devastating effect on independent toy makers, not only in the US, but small scale international toy makers who sells products in the US market
For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.
International toy makers like Selecta Spielzeug, who are already governed by strict regulations in their home country of Germany, have already announced they will no longer be selling their products in the US because of the law.
On their website, the Alliance spells out a couple of different scenarios.
- A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
- A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
- A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
- And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.
While it is nice to see a government act to prevent threats to our children’s health, I would sure hate to see small, independent toy makers who make safe, high quality toys hurt in the process. The amendments that the Alliance recommends (things like exemptions for toys made from trusted countries and for toys made from raw woods and food grade materials) seem like a good starting point to make sure there are alternatives to Fisher Price and Mattel in the marketplace.
Thanks to Craftsbury Kids for the info.