On 12 January 2010 the “APEC Toys Safety Dialogue 2010” in Hong Kong brought together decision-makers from all over the world to discuss global challenges and solutions for toy safety.
In the context where Chinese factories make more than 70% of the world’s toys, their safety is becoming a target for all. Therefore governments called for action during a meeting in Hong Kong on 12 January 2010. The leaving European Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Mrs Meglena Kuneva, participated in the meetings, as well as her American counterpart, Inez Moore Tenenbaum. The latter announced a day before that a tough new law in 2008 seems to have made toys safer, “dropping recalls from 162 in 2008 to 41 last year.” (Steve Toloken, Plastic News, 13th of January 2010)
This new American law, which included restrictions on phthalates used in certain plastic toys, has its European “counterpart” in the Toy Safety Directive that came into force on 20 July 2009 and will become a legal document in all Member States once it has been implemented into national legislation (by 20 January 2011).
Other countries also strengthened laws following widespread issues with toys in 2007.
And the governments won’t take the eyes off Chinese toys factories yet, as it seems that some toy jewellery makers are now using cadmium as a cheap lead substitute. The new regulations affected lots of Chinese toy companies, particularly at a time of continued weak markets.
Mrs Kuneva underlined that recent consumer products recalls show that all governments are equally concerned: “It is no longer really practical to undertake enforcement on a national or even regional level” said the European Commissioner. She also added that toy regulators around the world, including in China, have begun working much more closely together, and she called for a ‘step change’ in market surveillance and information sharing between governments.
She is convinced that American and European regulators will seal a formal deal to share information on upcoming product recalls, and she said that more can be done to bring different global safety standards into harmony, including on testing methods.
The other Hong Kong participants welcomed this latter idea that would imply the development of common safety standards, or at least the harmonisation of existing national standards.
Speech of Commissioner Kuneva: