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The HTA Platform and the Regulation Conundrum

The Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) represents a broad spectrum of small and micro businesses manufacturing, retailing and importing children’s products. Our membership continues to experience the unintended consequences of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and its amendment, HR-2715.

The Platform

Our platform outlines these concerns for two business types and the solutions needed by the members of the HTA.

Business Type

% Members

Issues Caused by CPSIA, HR-2715

Solutions Needed

Small and micro sized manufacturers of children’s products[1]

64 %

HR2715 provides for a Small Batch Exemption that is inadequate.

  • Small batch exemption from third party test but not from full compliance, certification, and labeling creates a paradox problem
  • Ruling requires registration in a publicly available data store
  • The law and CPSC rulings are too complicated and complex for the micro business owner
  • Requirements of CPSIA: third party testing, periodic testing, certification, and labeling become voluntary with registration in a private data store
  • CPSC may use registration data to provide targeted education for safety from the start; designing for safety


Business Type

% Members

Issues Caused by CPSIA, HR-2715

Solutions Needed

Specialty children’s product importers and retailers[2]

26 %

Specialty importers and retailers continue to have limited access to quality, safe, small batch children’s products because of the economics of compliance.

  • Loss of specialty children’s products from US and Europe removes a key means of differentiation from mass retailers
  • Limits consumer choice unnecessarily
  • Creation of a regulatory trade barrier to international small batch manufacturers
  • Recognize European Union safety standard EN-71 as substantially equivalent to CPSIA regulation – allowing US certification by manufacturer of record
  • Direct CPSC to monitor international standards in children’s products and to recognize these as substantially equivalent when possible
  • See previous table for restoring access to domestically produced unique, specialty products

A Regulation Conundrum

The journey from the passage of the CPSIA in August of 2008 to the amendment HR-2715 in August of 2011 and the following rulings of the CPSC has caused a flood of documents and an often puzzling set of requirements. These requirements seem to be written without an effective understanding of how small and micro businesses operate. HR-2715 effectively solved CPSIA unintended consequences for some product areas like; bicycles, ATVs, used children’s products, and printed media. For members of the HTA, opportunities for relief from this disproportionate burden vanished as the CPSC chose the strictest available interpretations, ruling repeatedly for tighter regulation rather than common sense options. On multiple occasions, even with small business input available to them, this commission has voted to simply delay addressing issues. Without meaningful reforms designed to make this regulation friendly to the smallest businesses, the unnecessary harm continues to compound.

For instance:

  • HR2715 defines a small batch manufacturer as a producer (or importer) of children’s products with revenue of less than one million dollars and production quantities less than 7500 per item. The CPSC then ruled that for an importer to qualify for a small batch exemption the importer and the international manufacturer must both meet the revenue and production quantity requirements.

    This interpretation adds restrictions to the law not intended by congress which render this route to relief for small batch importers useless and effectively continues to keep middle tier European small batch products from reaching the US market. International companies with revenue of less than one million dollars rarely seek an export partner. It is possible that some relief could be experienced by perhaps the smallest of importers if the revenue limits were applied only to the US based importer.

  • The CPSC determined that some raw materials by their nature, wood and cotton fabrics for example, do not include lead above the limit imposed by the CPSIA and therefore do not need to be third party tested (16 CFR 1500-91; August 2009.) Then the CPSC adopted ASTM-F963-11 (77 FR 10358; February 2012) which adds seven more heavy metals that must be limit tested. Children’s products assembled completely of solid wood or cotton fabric must now be tested for the solubility of seven heavy metals – but not lead.

    CPSC staff has identified this as an area where the burden of third party test can be reduced (Consideration of Opportunities to Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Consistent with Assuring the Compliance of Children’s Products; August 29, 2012.) The commission voted (October 10, 2012) to direct staff to issue an RFI (Request for Information) where “the burden for demonstrating whether any material qualifies for a determination shall be on the submitter of the information requested.” The CPSC 2013 Operating Plan; January 18, 2013, allocates a project (25727) for staff to issue the RFI and specifically states that the effort to review the responses will not occur before 2014. On this schedule, perhaps the CPSC could issue a ruling on this determination in the year 2015. Meantime, the manufacturer of a totally cotton fabric doll must third party test for the presence of these seven heavy metals.
  • Another common material used in small batch wooden toys is composite wood, for example, plywood. This material is not exempt from third party testing for lead content. The CPSC staff has identified this as an area where the third party testing burden can be reduced (Consideration of Opportunities to Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Consistent with Assuring the Compliance of Children’s Products; August 29, 2012) through adding composite wood to the list of materials determined not to include lead.

    The CPSC 2013 Operating Plan; January 18, 2013, allocates a project (25727) for staff to issue the RFI and specifically states that the effort to review the responses will not occur before 2014. Therefore the same extended process outlined above must complete before any burden relief is possible. A determination that composite wood does not have heavy metals above the limits set forth in ASTM F963-11 and therefore does not need to be third party tested significantly reduces the cost burden for a small batch wooden toy maker.

  • Regulation harmonization has been a frequent conversation item within congress, at the CPSC, and within the White House Office of Management and Budget via the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The HTA has participated in all of these conversations, but there has been little movement within these bodies to find real solutions.

    The CPSC staff document Consideration of Opportunities to Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Consistent with Assuring the Compliance of Children’s Products; August 29, 2012, lists international standards equivalency as an opportunity to reduce testing burdens. The commission voted (October 10, 2012) to direct staff to issue an RFI where “the burden of demonstrating equivalence shall be on the submitter of the information.” However, there has not been a project allocated within the CPSC 2013 Operating Plan; January 18, 2013, under which the CPSC staff can pursue this further. Therefore this possibility for burden reduction is not likely to occur.

  • Periodic testing rules were implemented (77 FR 72205; December 2012) without regard to the volume of production. The same periodic testing rules apply when manufacturing volumes are in the hundreds or hundreds of thousands. CPSC Staff identified this issue in their document Consideration of Opportunities to Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Consistent with Assuring the Compliance of Children’s Products; August 29, 2012, and suggested that “small manufacturers who do not qualify as small batch manufacturers could realize reduced third party testing costs.”

    The commission voted (October 10, 2012) to not pursue this burden reduction opportunity, but a later insert suggests that there was some interest in having CPSC staff do a partial investigation. However, there has not been a project allocated within the CPSC 2013 Operating Plan; January 18, 2013, under which the CPSC staff can pursue this further. Therefore this possibility for burden reduction is not likely to occur.

The Reality, Moving Forward

There continue to be many opportunities where burdens can be reduced and even eliminated without compromising the safety of consumers. These have been identified and discussed within Congress and the CPSC. They include:

  • Establish a list of equivalent tests, especially those from the E.U. in EN-71
  • Expand lead determinations list to include eight heavy elements from ASTM-F963-11
  • Add manufactured woods to the lead determinations list
  • Create and expand a determinations list for phthalates
  • Accept results from a wider group of testing labs
  • Define a low volume periodic testing rule
  • Publish a wide variety of product specific guidance

Congress and the CPSC must move forward with meaningful solutions that are funded and given priority.



[1] For example; small family business with less than 10 employees producing toys for regional retail, sole proprietor producing unique children’s products for retail locally, a retired senior who produces 20 wooden toys annually, a homemaker producing artistic children’s products and self-retailing.

[2] Businesses with less than 10 employees importing or retailing specialty small batch children’s products

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