Toy Association’s Lawrence Spotlights Toy Safety, Sustainability in International Meetings

November 4, 2019 | The Toy Association’s Joan Lawrence, senior vice president of standards & regulatory affairs, represented the U.S. toy industry in Europe at the ICPHSO 2019 International Symposium and at British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) Sustainability and Technical Committees meetings, outlining the ways in which the U.S. trade association is advocating for toy safety and sustainability on a global scale.

At the ICPHSO Symposium, held October 24 to 25 in Dublin, Lawrence spoke on the panel, "Shaping the Future in Toyland: Safely Home for the Holidays," highlighting The Toy Association’s leadership in the area of toy safety and in educating consumers to ensure safe play.

As Lawrence noted during the presentation, while toy safety certainly comes under the microscope during the fourth quarter holiday season, toy safety is a year-round priority for the industry. She highlighted key messages for consumers at this time of year – that focus on positive tools and tips for families – and how The Toy Association engages consumers through its website and other outreach. Co-representing the toy industry along with Catherine Van Reeth, director general of Toy Industries of Europe, Lawrence discussed the proactive steps the global industry takes to anticipate the future of toy safety. She cited historic examples such as magnets in toys, batteries and acoustics, and most recently with sequined plush products, and noted such leadership in toy safety has also provided a model for standards in other product categories. Lawrence and Van Reeth also shared perspective on connected play and efforts to fight counterfeits, especially online.

The panel also explored how the evolving landscape in toy development, technology, potential emerging issue, counterfeit toys, and more are impacting toy safety.

"The ICPHSO International Symposium continues to serve as a critical meeting place for international product safety experts to share intel on how to ensure the safety of consumer products around the world," Lawrence said. "The Toy Association’s annual participation in this and other international events provides us the opportunity to continue advocating on behalf of our members and sharing the industry expertise as a model."

Other speakers on the panel included Tania Vandenberghe, senior program manager of ANEC; Shelby Mathis, small business ombudsman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and Jason Hertzberg, principal engineer and corporate vice-president of Exponent. The panel was moderated by Belinda May, partner at Dentons US LLP and most recent ICPHSO past president.

Lawrence was also a guest at the BTHA’s Sustainability and Technical Committees meetings, held October 28 in London, where she shared The Toy Association’s priority efforts in each area, such as The Toy Association’s Smart Packaging Initiative and efforts related to intellectual property issues, among others, and offered opportunities for collaboration.

"Our counterparts at BTHA are facing some of the same issues we are," said Lawrence. "Opportunities to brainstorm and collaborate with each other are so valuable and these meetings help continue some of those conversations."

Created in 1993, the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing forums for the exchange of ideas and information on health and safety issues related to consumer products manufactured and marketed in the global marketplace. ICPHSO will hold its Annual Meeting and Training Symposium on February 18 to 21, 2020 in Orlando, FL.