For those of you hoping to see toys become "greener" this year, forget it. Mr. Waxman and Ms. Pelosi have different ideas. Having California-ized the country and made phthalates and lead illegal at virtually any perceptible level under the noxious CPSIA, Congress made the possibility of using recycled materials too risky. Clearly, using recycled plastic is good for our planet- there is less waste and less damage to the environment. It is also thrifty and sensitive to our limited resources. Unfortunately, when using recycled materials, there is virtually no control possible over the presence of phthalates or lead contamination. Ah, the inviting prospect of a CPSIA violation! Importantly, this also means that each batch will be different and subject to random failures. Contaminants cannot be controlled.
It's a shame that toys and educational materials won't be able to be recycled. Given the CPSC's recent Resale Roundup initiative, they won't be resold either. Landfills will bulge courtesy of the CPSIA and Congress. The charm of the toy business is going away . . . fast.
The reduction in product innovation and the premature death of safe products under the CPSIA is costing money, jobs and economic vitality right now. The weakened state of the economy has not left the Small Business community feeling flush. It's time to acknowledge that the factors affecting Big Business are worlds apart from those affecting Small Business. Big Toy may be prospering right now (Mattel 3rd Quarter earnings were $230 million and Hasbro's 3rd Quarter earnings were $150 million), but the little guys are getting killed. The consequences of fear of random (and sometimes unsolvable) legal problems can be felt in the chill running through the industry. I cannot explain why so few people take this seriously.
It is all the more puzzling because of the absence of victims. We are seeing our businesses dismantled before our eyes to make people "safer" yet who is being saved? The hysterical consumer groups and rabid media behind the CPSIA banged drums over the "dangers" of lead-in-substrate and phthalates. If phthalates and lead-in-substrate were so terrible, where are all the victims from years past? I want names, addresses, photos and case histories. Rather than insist that the "danger" is unbearable, advocates for this law failed to prove that people are being hurt. The consumer advocates punted with a non-answer, namely that there is no "safe level" for lead. This hand waving seems to give the advocates some sort of pass on presenting actual data. Likewise with phthalates, the advocates trade on fear but do not present real data demonstrating real harm. Those chemicals have been in the market for decades so if they cause such dreaded injuries, why don't I know about a single victim? Why haven't the newspapers presented case histories - gore sells papers, as everyone knows. The absence of data is data. Congress, where are you?
Again, no one seems to care about these niceties. As long as people "feel safe", then the costs we are incurring must be worth it . . . right?
It's your world, I guess you get to decide.