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Toxic toys still made a year after exposé

By Chen Tian (

10:47, March 05, 2013

Local authorities in Shantou, Guangdong Province, have failed to stop local toy manufacturers from using toxic materials in their products, a full year after an exposé by China Central Television (CCTV) sparked a public outcry.

After returning to Shantou, CCTV discovered that toxic materials were still being used by many of the city's toy manufacturers.

According to a CCTV report Monday, the city had removed two local industry and commerce officials in Shantou's Chenghai district following the renewed scandal.

In March 2012, CCTV reported that Shantou's toy manufacturing industry was habitually using toxic materials to make its products. After a public outcry, the city's deputy mayor apologized, and vowed to make fundamental quality improvements in the industry.

However, any improvement sparked by the television report was short-lived. A revisit from CCTV reporters found that local processing workshops are still providing toxic materials, such as medical waste made from plastics, to toy manufacturers.

"The officials are busy having meetings to find a way to solve the toxic toy problem," an administrative officer from Shantou government, who would not give his name, told the Global Times.

At the processing workshops, plastic materials and used medical devices, which are often found in garbage cans, are simply smashed, rinsed and dried, and then sold to toy producers. Sometimes the workshops even added ground-up stone in the materials to make it heavier, with the hope of making more money, CCTV reported Sunday.

Almost none of the toy products have ever been certified by China's quality control and inspection authorities, the investigation revealed.

Toy retailers at a Chenghai district plastics city, a marketplace for the city's retailers, told CCTV that quality certification can be easily printed on the toys without any inspection by governmental supervisory body.

Chenghai district government's website published a news story Monday saying that Shantou has started a "blanket investigation" into the matter and was determined to eliminate toxic toys.

"We will take immediate and effective actions to solve the problem," Shantou's deputy mayor, Lin Yimin, was quoted as saying in the Chenghai Daily story.

A senior executive at a Chenghai-based toymaker, Huawei Technology Co Ltd, said in an e-mail to the Global Times that the local government has loose inspection efforts and some toymakers have a poor sense of integrity.

"It (Chenghai district government) should establish a long-term supervisory system, and the inspection measures have to be effectively enforced," Qiu Liang, vice general manager of the toy producer, wrote in the note.

"Once a problem is found, the companies involved must be heavily punished," Qiu wrote.

The toy manufacturing industry drives Chenghai's economic growth and is a major part of Shantou's economy. According to the Shantou Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, Shantou's 2012 toy exports reached $1.6 billion, a 12.7-percent increase from the previous year. The biggest foreign buyers are from Hong Kong and Southeast Asian countries.

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