Production of toys and articles for children in China
Buy toys and items for children safely from China.
Toys from China keep making the headlines. This is probably due to the fact that many importers do not comply with EU regulations or are simply not familiar with them. If the EU regulations for toys or articles for children are disregarded, there is a risk not only of confiscations by the customs authorities, but also warnings from competing companies who see themselves as harmed by the fact that they are disadvantaged by complying with all regulations, since the articles are essential must be offered more expensively than by the company that does not comply with the regulations.
Much more serious, however, is the damage that can occur to children if they use the toy with toxic chemical additives, e.g. B. put it in your mouth or wear clothing with allergenic substances. In addition, one shares responsibility for the fact that workers in China come into contact with cheap, harmful chemicals during production, which can only be processed because the importer ignores the possible damage to subsequent users.
This news alarmed all parents of small children: Once a year, the EU Commission publishes an annual report called “Rapex”, which has the function of a rapid warning system. According to the report, inspectors from Europe had to take around 2,500 unhealthy products off the market last year. This affected more than a quarter of children’s toys such as dolls, bath ducks, teddies and other items for young children. Most of the toys, which are harmful to children’s health, were found in China by the European inspectors. Unfortunately, this problem has been widespread for a long time, that toxins could be found particularly often in toys from the People’s Republic of China. In the past, this even went so far that in 2007 the German consumer protection agency called on the EU Commission to stop toy imports from China.
The consumer advocates justified this demand with the fact that Brussels cannot tolerate the import of toys from China as long as the authorities from the People’s Republic cannot guarantee that goods will be produced that are completely harmless to children’s health. The then Federal Government and the EU Commission were accused of a lack of awareness of the problem by consumer protection.
Unfortunately, the debate from the past has not been able to achieve anything. At that time, around 70% of all toys came from China, which has now risen to over 90%. An independent study in 2011 found the production conditions in Asia to be more than poor. The labor rights organization Students & Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom for short) from Hong Kong smuggled undercover employees into the Chinese factories for children’s toys during undercover investigations. Unfortunately, the research was very alarming:
Solvents and toxic chemicals were left open at the workplaces. The workers do not use gloves or protective masks for their own protection. Plasticizers containing the banned substances DINP and DIDP have been identified as causing cancer or damaging the liver. The Students & Scholars against Corporate report found that major Western corporations such as Mattel, Lego, Disney, Matchbox, Mc Donalds and Fisher Price source their goods from factories that do not adhere to the necessary safety measures for health prevention.
The government of China said it is taking care of these issues and taking appropriate action against the affected factories. Unfortunately without subsequent actions. The media from China itself has repeatedly reported that harmful toxins have been discovered in toys and goods made of plastic. China has repeatedly attracted negative attention and is no longer trusted when it comes to child safety. Even locals often buy toys from abroad to turn their backs on Chinese production. Eco-certified wooden toys are often bought from Germany if the financial situation of a Chinese family allows it.
The local workers who produce the toys also have to pay dearly with their health. Often the workers have no choice but to work in the big factories. They absolutely need the wages to survive. Although there are workplace safety regulations in China, most factories do not comply with them due to cost reasons. According to reports, the employees work piecework in the run-up to Christmas. 140 hours of overtime per month are not uncommon. Many do not even get an employment contract and are employed illegally. The workers are not given protective clothing for their work and are constantly exposed to the highly toxic chemicals.
Because the EU Commission has no influence on the laws in the People’s Republic of China, no direct pressure can be exerted on the Chinese government. What can parents do about this problem? A large part of the toys on the European market come from China. Parents should definitely look out for a CE mark when buying toys. These are EU standardized toy guidelines.
The regulation states that a CE marking must be visibly affixed to the toy itself or the toy’s packaging. The name and address of the company must also be placed clearly and visibly on the packaging. So if you don’t find a CE mark / GS seal and information about the dealer, it’s a question of a toy that hasn’t been tested and is safe by the EU. Toys without a CE mark are not officially allowed to be sold in Europe. Nevertheless, there are a number of toys on the market without a certificate, for example in the case of counterfeits, on the black market, etc. Small traders often bring untested toys onto the market and sell them through their own sales channels. Therefore, always pay attention to the CE certificate and buy from trustworthy dealers. You should be skeptical about the purchase on a rather unknown homepage or from unknown dealers, for example on Ebay or Amazon.
If an unpacked toy smells very strongly of chemicals, do not use it. Sucking and putting in the mouth can be dangerous for your child and have health consequences. Help can also be provided by German consumer protection, where concerned parents can obtain important information.
Import of toys from China
Toys are subject to many strict import regulations – and rightly so.
Around 70 percent of the toys sold in Europe come from Asia (mainly from China). As an importer, you should observe the legal regulations, which are particularly important for toy are very severely pronounced, the western world should be aware of them. In recent years, there have always been far-reaching changes in the Toy Policy (2009/48/EG). The fact that the importer in this country is fully responsible for ensuring product safety is often underestimated. Although he can take recourse against the manufacturer, this is difficult in practice for several reasons. The fact is: global trade is by no means as free as one might think, especially when it comes to the sensitive product children’s toys. But what does it count as Importer of toys from China to pay attention to the details?
The agency Frisch International Consulting GmbH & Co. KG is your partner if you Import toys safely from China want. You can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 0 30 32 89 68 83 .
Updated Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC)
The 2009/48/EG directive on the safety of toys came into force in 2009 and now comprises more than 150 pages. Essential safety requirements, warnings and necessary technical documents are specifically regulated here. The guideline also contains important definitions of terms (e.g. functional toys, water toys, activity toys, chemical toys) and explanations of objects that are not considered toys within the meaning of this guideline.
In addition to the change presented here, an importer should always keep an eye on the basic case law on this subject. Almost every year there are new requirements and restrictions that have to be observed. In 2014, for example, there were changed requirements for toys with regard to the nickel content. And in 2017, the Toy Directive was amended with regard to the lead content in toys, among other things, and specific limit values for chemical substances in toys were also introduced.
Since environmental protection and health are considered to be much more important in Germany and Europe than in Asia, the importer should definitely deal with these topics in detail. It should be noted in particular that since the beginning of 2007 there has been a ban on special phthalates, i.e. plasticizers, in PVC toys. In the case of electronic toys, other regulations (e.g. VDE regulations) must sometimes be met.
Despite the ever-increasing number of regulations, the Toy Safety Directive is still being criticized from many quarters. For example, many permitted limit values are sometimes even classified as too high by the federal government. This applies in particular to limit values for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are used as chemical softeners for various products.
By the way: The example of the US toy giant Mattel shows what happens if the applicable regulations are not observed. In 2007, the company had to recall several million toys because lead-based paint was applied to them to a prohibited extent.
Remind Chinese traders to comply with German standards
Not every Chinese producer can produce toys according to valid European or German standards. If you give the importer the feeling of constant control right from the start, he will most likely try to comply with the specifications.
By the way: most of them Chinese toy manufacturer are located in Shanghai. Especially in the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhio, Zhejiang or in Guangdong.
In principle everyone will toy importer recommended to have the manufacturer sign a so-called EC declaration of conformity. This is a confirmation that the toy manufacturer meets all required health and safety requirements. In particular, it is confirmed in practice that the requirements of the EC Directive 2009/48/EC already described above are met. Such a declaration thus confirms the positive result of a conformity assessment procedure. A sample form for a declaration of conformity can be found at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK). Important: The declaration of conformity must be kept for at least ten years.
If the confirmation is available, a CE marking of the respective toy, which is necessary in Europe, can be carried out. The CE mark assures the buyer that all guidelines have been complied with – at least that’s the idea. In practice, any toy manufacturer can affix the CE mark itself (without first checking compliance with regulations). The CE marking must be affixed directly to some items, while for others it is sufficient if the information can be found on the packaging or instructions.
Furthermore, an inquiry at the German TÜV can be helpful and appropriate. Under certain circumstances, you can find out here whether the toy in question can actually be sold legally in Germany.
First of all, the importer is liable – not the producer
Contrary to what one might initially think, the manufacturer in the Far East is not always liable for product safety. First of all, it is the importer who, as the contact person and person responsible, has to take the blame (see: Product Liability Act – ProdHaftG). The liability results from who imports the respective toy into the EU area of application or “puts it on the market”. For this reason, the importer should ensure that the pollutant limits in particular are observed. Of course, the toy manufacturer is liable to the importer accordingly – but according to Chinese law. In practice, it is correspondingly difficult to successfully sue the manufacturer on site. A preliminary inquiry, for example at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK), can shed light on the matter and possibly clarify whether the manufacturer in question has already made a positive or negative impression in the past.
Beware of counterfeit products!
In principle, of course, it is not permitted to import counterfeit branded toys from China to Europe. If customs discover such counterfeits, they will confiscate the delivery in question and have the products destroyed. Of course, the importer will not receive any financial compensation. If necessary, court proceedings will also be initiated. A similar approach occurs when Customs has reasonable grounds to believe that safety or health requirements have not been met. If in doubt, customs will then stop the delivery and request an inspection.
The toy importer must also ensure that no trademark or patent rights are violated in any other way. This means that, for example, the toy car may not have an Audi, BMW or Mercedes logo if the manufacturer cannot provide the relevant licenses for it.
Minimize risks sustainably
In order to reduce your own risk as an importer, you should not “blindly” rely on the Chinese producer. A step-by-step approach is more recommended, which could be as follows: First of all, the importer should send himself a sample of the toy, which he can have checked for compliance with the regulations (in particular the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC). In this context, a so-called pre-production test is also recommended, in which the raw materials are checked before the start of production. The quality should also be checked repeatedly during the production process. Finally, the importer should endeavor to obtain a final inspection and audit on site in Germany.
Product safety is a topic that is taken seriously, especially in Europe. The Chinese toy manufacturers are now aware of this. Nevertheless, compliance with the regulations, as the “lex specialis” here the Toy Directive 2009/48/EG, should not be left to chance. In particular, the toy importer should attach great importance to compliance with the maximum pollutant values. If you are still unsure as an importer, you can contact the Frisch agency, the German TÜV or the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHL) and ask for support.
The Frisch agency supports you in buying toys from China and children’s items with little risk in compliance with the legal regulations in China and importing them to Germany. Contact us at email@example.com or Tel: 0 30 32 89 68 83.