Legislation Impacting Printers: Topping the Agenda

Lisbeth Lyons, vice president of Government Affairs at Printing Industries of America.

Jim Andersen, president and CEO of IWCO Direct in Chanhassen, MN.

The CPSIA also covers phthalate, such as plasticizers that can be found in printing inks, coatings and adhesives. New content limits for lead and phthalates are already in effect, but testing won’t start until Feb. 10, 2010.

Basically, anything that a consumer aged 12 and under may touch must now undergo advanced testing. Problem is, the testing/certification guidelines have not been set, yet the CPSIA is supposed to go into effect next month.

“Most of those on Capitol Hill would acknowledge there’s a lot of unintended consequences with this bill, including the fact that children’s books and other printed material—flash cards, workbooks, coloring books, children’s menus, greeting cards—have to be subject to testing and certification,” Lyons says. “It’s mainly a cost issue for our members, and it’s also very disruptive to the on-demand manufacturing process.”

Currently, the PIA is working with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to obtain an exemption for printed materials. PIA already garnered some administrative relief by getting books that are printed CMYK on the Commission’s approved list, and thus won’t require testing. Those still vulnerable to testing would include books with spot inks, foil stamping, staples or adhesives.

Absent a blanket exemption for printed products—which is not likely at this juncture—PIA is working on obtaining a legislative fix, according to Lyons. Unfortunately, Congress and the CPSC are pointing at each other as to who can provide relief.

If nothing changes, printers and publishers stand to take a hard hit to the wallet. Bob Terry, engineering/environmental and safety manager for Hess Print Solutions in Downers Grove, IL—and an active voice in the PIA relief effort—notes that third-party tests can range from between $500 and $2,500. Costs vary on the makeup of the book, according to Terry. Even more distressing is the turn time on test results, which generally take three to six weeks, thus potentially devastating for delivery dates.

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