CPSIA: throwing away 500 stuffed animals

by Walter Olson on March 9, 2009

stuffedpatchworkturtleNo, discarding 500 once-loved stuffed animals doesn’t really amount to much of a story amid scenes of billion-dollar disruptions caused by this law elsewhere around the country. But if you’re one of the people who run the Second Fling consignment shop in Goldsboro, N.C., it might still seem kind of sad.

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An Explosion of Litigation | OpenMarket.org
03.14.09 at 10:38 am

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1 Sophie 03.09.09 at 12:23 pm

There is so much misinformation out there. Where is it written that products made in the last 5 years are okay? And my local food bank says that because they GIVE AWAY clothing and children’s items they have decided they do not come under the law. Is that correct? I don’t know. They feel they are serving desperate needs and do not want to discourage donations.

And BTW the products that do not meet the CPSIA are NOT recalled. The CPSC is giving out misinformation as well.

I have been researching how manufacturers are handling this and the only thing I know for sure is both the manufacturers and the retail community are all over the place.

2 Carol Baicker-McKee 03.09.09 at 3:12 pm

Hi Sophie,
You’re right that there is tons of misinformation which is due to a number of things, including confusing and even somewhat contradictory information from the CPSC, a flurry of rulings in the days immediately around the enactment of the law, and misstatements in the media and misleading ones from snopes.com and other “authorities” (like the consumer groups that fought for this law). And then there’s the law itself: for example, the phthalates ban applies to childcare items for kids 3 and under, as well as to toys for kids 12 and under, while the lead limits apply to all products 12 and under, except for ones made 100% from certain materials, electronics with lead in inaccessible places and nowhere else, etc., resellers don’t have to test ever, everyone else gets a stay of testing until next February but everyone including resellers is liable for stocking or selling items that violate the limits, etc.) Bottom line: you need lots of time and a legal staff to help you sort through this law. Even the CPSC staff need help: you can see their 32 page powerpoint “summary”of the law athttp://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/ICPHSO2009.pdf – but even it is woefully incomplete. It takes hours to read the law and all the interpretation on the CPSC website, to say nothing of all the good info on sites like this.

My understanding (and I’m pretty confident I’m right) is that products made in the last 5 years are only legal if they fall into one of the categories of protected materials, or if they’re “ordinary books” printed since 1985. And you’re still subject to the law if you’re giving items away (though I don’t think that testing applies – I assume charities are treated like resellers but it doesn’t explicitly say so)

See the CPSIA guide for charities et al at http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/smbus/cpsiasbguide.pdf.

3 Shingler 03.09.09 at 3:19 pm

Before any stuffed animals are thrown away, at least these items can be donated to nursing homes and animal shelters. Both are elderly and our homeless pets like stuffed animals too.

4 Patrick 03.09.09 at 4:08 pm

Before any stuffed animals are thrown away, at least these items can be donated to nursing homes and animal shelters. Both are elderly and our homeless pets like stuffed animals too.

I’m not so sure they can be donated to nursing homes or animal shelters under the law as written. Whether stuffed animals are actually used by the elderly (or dogs – mine would destroy them in minutes), they’re “primarily intended” for use by those under 12, and so covered by the act. And yes, I realize how ridiculous it is to discuss legal liability for giving a stuffed animal to a dog.

For another example of ridiculousness, consider the case of Utah’s Happy Factory, which donates hand-turned wooden toys to underprivileged kids, and is now closing a large part of its operation because of the CPSIA.

http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20090227/NEWS01/902270345

For background on the Happy Factory, which seems as admirable a charity as you’ll find, see here:

http://www.byui.edu/scroll/campus/2008/12/20081202-happy-factory.htm

But since the wood may, in some Cartesian probabilistic sense, contain lead, these kids get no toys.

5 Sophie 03.09.09 at 5:57 pm

My issue is that the CPSIA does not spell out doodley-squat. Those guidelines are vague, vague, vague.

There are no specifics. I have been in contact with a ton of independent retailers over the past month and I know for a fact that the information is all over the place. Some manufacturers have not even contacted retailers and some have categorically assigned toy products as collectibles for “13 and over’ even though I know from personal experience that is basically a falsehood based on prior consumer consumption trends.

Go to a national retail chain and assess for yourself the zippers and snaps and rhinestones then tell me why the mom and pops are feeling persecuted.

6 Deb 03.09.09 at 6:26 pm

“Go to a national retail chain and assess for yourself the zippers and snaps and rhinestones then tell me why the mom and pops are feeling persecuted.”

The national retail chain stores carry more insurance, have law firms on retainer, and can more readily absorb the costs of the steep fines (which the cpsia increased and did away with any “first time forgiveness” provisions. As a micro-business owner, I cannot afford to face the loss of my business as well as my home.

7 Happymom4 03.09.09 at 7:46 pm

Go to a national retail chain and assess for yourself the zippers and snaps and rhinestones then tell me why the mom and pops are feeling persecuted.

DEFINITELY!!! At our Wal-mart, I couldn’t believe the “variety” of things that were being sold. They only change I could ascertain was that the tags on the kids clothing now carries a “SKU” and a then a whole slew of numbers and/or letters–to fulfill, I suppose, the tracking needs . . . .

8 Sebastian (a lady) 03.10.09 at 11:07 pm

Toward the end of the article is this quotation:
***
There is no easy answer, said Patty Davis of the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, adding that concerned parents can visit the commission’s Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov and pull up recall lists by manufacturer or by individual product type.

“No limit was ever placed on the amount of lead that the government would allow in children’s items before the new law was passed,” she said.

***

If there was no limit ever placed on the amount of lead allowed in children’s items before this new law, then what on earth was the basis for all the recalls in 2007? This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe she meant that there weren’t limits on lead in the vast overreaching spectrum of children’s products that this law attempts to regulate.

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