The QCA Ink Testing Initiative worked with seven ink suppliers to conduct more than 850 individual tests measuring lead, cadmium, soluble heavy metals and phthalate content, with results available exclusively through QCA Accredited Suppliers.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (May 10, 2012) – Promotional products wouldn’t be promotional products without decoration, and oftentimes this embellishment includes ink. And while most ink manufacturers tested inks prior to releasing them on the market as part of a development protocol, most of this testing was performed years ago when different standards applied and protocols were different. Because the regulatory environment has changed significantly in the last couple years, as evidenced by the implementation of CPSIA and California Prop. 65 among others, not only is retesting imperative, but it’s required to comply with today’s regulations.

Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the promotional product industry’s only independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe products, has negotiated with ink suppliers Marabu and Ink Cups Now (ICN) to test their entire lines used for promotional products manufacturing. Additionally, five other suppliers’ inks that are frequently used by manufacturers of promotional products were tested.

In total, the QCA Ink Testing Initiative conducted more than 850 individual tests measuring lead, cadmium, soluble heavy metals and phthalate content. These third-party laboratory testing results are available exclusively through QCA-Affiliated Suppliers.

Testing of the inks used in the decoration of promotional products is essential for being in compliance with CPSIA guidelines including the Final Rule on Component Parts Testing and other regulatory standards. “Once we began working with the ink suppliers on the QCA Ink Testing Initiative, something remarkable happened. Two of the leading manufacturers supplying inks for promotional products found the proposal so compelling that they tested far deeper into their lines and, in one case, the entire line,” said D E Fenton, QCA executive director – compliance. “This is significant because it shows how important delivering safe and compliant product has become throughout the entire supply chain.”

Clif Treco, North American sales manager for Marabu, said, “The QCA Ink Testing Initiative represents a move forward in the market for safer and compliant products. While the testing was initially targeted for the promotional products industry, the results have a much bigger impact because our inks are also used by numerous consumer companies that sell at the retail level. Whether in a B2B or B2C situation, we want our clients as well as their customers throughout the supply chain to rest easy because they know our inks are safe and compliant.”

Rick Brenner, CEO of Bridgeport, Connecticut-based supplier Prime Resources, is a long-time advocate of ink testing because of the implications of noncompliant ink. “Decorating an otherwise compliant product with noncompliant ink negates the entire process making the overall product noncompliant,” he said. “This is especially true for children’s products because they have the most stringent regulations. Having third-party validation that the inks being used to decorate product that otherwise meets all other regulatory requirements helps me sleep a lot better at night and, frankly, is what my customers are asking for.”

Brent Stone, QCA executive director of operations agrees. “Essentially, component testing of inks used in decoration in conjunction with the existing testing of blank product is the only way suppliers can ensure short-lead-time orders are compliant. The short lead times and low average order size in our industry simply do not allow enough time for the newly decorated item to be sent out for testing. Even if you were able to rush the testing service, the cost for testing these small orders would be prohibitive.”

Dr. Angelo Fatta, CEO of ANSECO Group, a consumer products testing laboratory specializing in toys, children’s products and simple hardlines, sees the QCA Ink Testing Initiative as a great step forward for the promotional products market. “Efforts such as these that focus not only on validating products as conforming to regulations and standards but also on identifying potential issues in advance benefit the wider market by ensuring the availability of safer and compliant consumer products,” he said. “This is essential for reducing risk and protecting our overall brand equity.”

For more information about QCA Ink Testing Initiative contact DFenton@qcalliance.org.

About QCA:

Chicago, Illinois-based Quality Certification Alliance is an independent, accreditation organization whose mission is to elevate the standards by which industry firms that import and/or manufacture promotional products provide consistently safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise. QCA Accreditation is granted to companies who complete an independent third-party audit and comply with stringent standards, which are based upon a combination of state and national laws, international standards and industry-accepted best practices that are recognized for their strength and effectiveness by QCA Accredited companies, the promotional products industry and end-user clients.

QCA was formed in July 2008, and today 17 companies have meet the rigorous qualifications to achieve QCA Accreditation—Barton Nelson, Inc.; BDA Inc.; Broder Bros.; Bullet Line LLC; Cutter & Buck; Dard Products, Inc.; Garyline, Gemline; Gordon Sinclair; Jetline; JournalBooks/TimePlanner Calendars; Leed’s; Logomark, Inc.; MMI; Prime Resources Corp.; SnugZ USA; and Sweda Company LLC—with others soon to complete the process.

In July 2010, the QCA Distributor Advocacy Council was created to formalize the relationship the organization has with distributors who understand the value compliance programs have in building stronger relationships with suppliers, creating competitive advantage in the marketplace and building loyalty with their end-buyer clients. In is currently comprised of 15 companies, which represent more than $800 million in annual promotional products sales.

D E (Denise) Fenton serves as executive director – compliance, and Brent Stone serves as executive director – operations.

For more information, visit www.qcalliance.org.


Media Contact:
Lisa Horn, CAS

Company Contact:
Brent Stone