When sourcing in China – the more product detail the better

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I have been reaching out to some vendors this week for a children’s product made with EVA foam. Since this is a kid’s product that is going to be sold in the US and Canada it has to be Phthalate free (which according to CPSC standards cannot contain more than 0.1% of Phthalates). In case you are not in Children’s products and do not know what Phthalates are, they are plasticizers, what gives plastic items their rubber feel. But of course they are harmful and in some countries, like France, they are banned entirely in children’s products. Germany bans some products and others have to meet stringent testing requirements just as they do in the US and Canada.

I had thought it was good enough to tell the vendors that I wanted EVA that was 环保 “huanbao.” In Chinese this is what you ask for when you want an environmentally friendly product. However, what I have learned on this project is that there are in fact 3 grades of EVA foam A, B and C, A being the most “huan bao” and C being the least. It all depends on the content of EVA foam in the product. Grade A will generally pass all tests, Grade B will pass some tests but not others and Grade C is generally not going to pass any tests. One vendor has assured me that B Grade EVA will pass the phthalate test and he even sent me a testing certificate. Another vendor has told me that B Grade will not pass the test and that we should get A Grade. It may be that they just want us to order a more expensive product. I don’t know. But I am learning a lot on this project.

In any case, it is good to know all this info up front. The lesson is anytime you are dealing with products, especially children’s products, try to learn as much about them as you can and discuss with your vendor. They will also be able to educate you.

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