China unveils tougher standards for toy production

China unveils tougher standards for toy production
Labourers work at a production line at a toy factory in Panyu, south China's Guangdong province.

China's quality-control watchdog unveiled four new national toy-safety standards on Thursday covering all products designed for children younger than 14 years old.

The standards include stricter requirements for DEHP - a toxic plasticizer - as well as limits for noise and flammability, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the Standardization Administration.

The new standards will take effect on Jan 1, 2016.

Zhang Yanfen, secretary-general with the National Technical Committee for Standardization of Toys, said the new standards have taken into consideration the International Standards Organisation standards for toys and local standards including those of the European Union.

The new standards are in line with the European standards in the requirements for amount of plasticizers allowed in toys, for which the ISO standard has no specific requirements.

The country had previously faced worries from domestic consumers that there is no ceiling for DEHP in the domestic standards, following reports of toxic toys in exports to the United States and Europe.

Liu Jianxin, a senior engineer with the light industrial products and children's products test centre with the Jiangsu Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, said it will take some time for the new standard to be enforced and that authorities decided to enact the new standards in 2016, one year and seven months after it was unveiled.

"For the producers, it means the purchase of new raw materials and installation of new production lines," he said.

Fang Xiang, deputy chief with the Standardization Administration, said the authority will introduce measures to encourage manufacturers to adopt the new standard as soon as possible.

The authority will first make public the names of companies that adopt the new standards to inform consumers before the mandatory standards are eventually adopted, he said.

The new standards are also expected to make it easier for Chinese toy makers to export toy products to developing countries, which usually adopt the ISO standards, according to Zhang with the National Technical Committee for Standardization of Toys.

But Liu said the new regulation will not have much affect on toy producers that export to the European and US markets, as they already meet the local standards.

With US$24.7 billion (S$30.9 billion) in exports in 2013, China produced and exported more than 70 per cent of the world's toys, China Securities Journal reported.

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