On July 27, 2012, California released a revised draft of its Safer Consumer Products Regulations—commonly known as the "Green Chemistry Initiative." The proposed regulations establish a process for California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and product manufacturers to assess whether consumer products containing certain "chemicals of concern" can be made with safer ingredients. Once

On June 20, 2011, the Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) took effect, and retailers who sell or distribute products in Canada will now need to include the CCPSA in their regulatory compliance considerations. This post offers some basic highlights of the new CCPSA for retailers facing product issues in Canada.
Continue Reading Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act Takes Effect

It has been almost 30 years since a court has ruled on what constitutes a handbag for purposes of determining the correct import duty. Yet, everywhere you look, from the sidewalk to the subway, women’s handbags are clearly getting bigger. The bags’ intended purpose hasn’t changed, but styles have; bigger bags have become the norm.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) imposes a four-percent higher duty on plastic handbags if they are classified as “travel bags” rather than “handbags” under the Harmonized Tariff Schedules (HTS). While Customs has established rules for determining whether an article is classified as a handbag or travel bag, Customs’ classification of these articles may not have not kept up with fashion. The result is that importers are forced to classify their ever-larger plastic handbags into the higher-duty travel bag tariff provisions. For years, importers have relied upon a size test for determining the tariff classification of handbags; e.g., bags that are smaller than 12” (W) x 9” (H) are handbags. This simple metric has always masked more than it has revealed and, as bags grow bigger, it has become increasingly meaningless. Size is becoming less and less indicative of the use for which a bag was intended.Continue Reading Are Retailers Paying Too Much Duty on Plastic Handbag Imports?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) just announced a giant leap forward in its effort to protect U.S. consumers against defective products manufactured in China. To combat the increasing frequency with which hazardous Chinese consumer products enter the United States, on January 10, 2011, the CPSC opened an office in China. The CPSC hopes that this new office will promote more effective communication with its Chinese counterpart – the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (“AQSIQ”) – allowing the CPSC to adopt a proactive approach to product safety with respect to Chinese imports. The agency’s proactive and preventative approach to product safety should also benefit U.S.-based retailers who often bear the expense of recalling defective products that originate in China, yet are left without recourse against the products’ Chinese manufacturers.
Continue Reading The CPSC Leaps Into China

Cosmetics, food, and other products sold by retailers often contain ingredients based on R&D conducted on plant and animal DNA/RNA or “genetic resources.” But what retailers, manufacturers, and others in the supply chain may not know is the ultimate origin of those genetic resources. They may need to start paying attention.
Continue Reading Protecting Your Brand from Allegations of “Biopiracy”

The new EU REACH Regulation establishes an integrated system for the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemical substances. It also provides “right to know” provisions allowing consumers to ask suppliers if their products contain Substances of Very High Concern (“SVHCs”) listed on an official Candidate List. Suppliers are obliged to reply within 45 days and free of charge to such requests with the name of the SVHC and information allowing safe use of the article.
Continue Reading EU Retailers Fail to Reply to “Right to Know” Requests from Consumers Under REACH