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ECO-T Environmental Sustainability Plan

CPSIA 2008 Compliant

Every t-shirt you buy from us is green, thanks to "ECO‑T," our environmental sustainability plan. What we already do and what we are planning to do is posted publicly both for our customers and because our research can help other companies improve their processes. We're proud of the positive efforts we are making on these concerns and want you to know the direction we're headed.

Testing Procedure

We rigorously test our materials. We send off samples of the surfaces that the ink touches and the ink and fabric used in your screen printing and embroidery order. We mix a batch of the ink and then let it sit for a week, to replicate the normal experience of an ink bucket.

We then print a test square on a shirt, cut it out, and send it off to the laboratory. Each test is documented and photographed by a non-shareholding employee who oversees the process.

  • Each color is mixed according to an exact formula
  • Each ink color is mixed from the different component colors
  • The addition of each color component is weighed against the formula
  • Mixing is witnessed and documented
  • Each color batch is carefully labeled and stored
  • A large variety of garments are used to simulate the variety of garment and ink interactions
  • A test square is printed for each ink color
  • The final combination is sent for testing
  • Dye sublimation on baby t-shirts is also tested
  • Hot press letters and numbers were tested
  • All embroidered caps were tested
  • Testing also included embroidery on garments

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA 2008) was enacted in August of 2008 for the purpose of reducing toxic chemicals in products and providing consumer knowledge about the products they use. We feel this law is a great first step to insure the products we all use are safe. The CPSIA outlines a series of testing steps that products must go through and dates of compliance for specified levels of toxic chemicals. Please visit the CPSIA site for up to date information.

What products does the CPSIA cover that a screen printer carries? Everything. Although most of the CPSIA is focused on toys and baby items, it also covers children's products. Children's product is defined as any item marketed or intended for use by a child 12 years or younger. This includes all items from sneakers to straws, and apparel and happy meal boxes, you name it and if there is the expectation of a 12 year old using it, it's covered. Any screen printer that offers youth size shirts or even up to adult medium sized t-shirts must comply with the CPSIA rules.

What are the rules for children's products like t-shirts?

  1. Lead content of less than 0.03% by 8/09, 0.01% by 2011
  2. Lead content of less than 0.009% in all coatings like ink
  3. Testing must be done by a third party certified lab to verify the amount of lead. Companies cannot rely on the word of the supplier, each company must get its own testing done.
  4. Third party conformity certificate shipped with each order of product.
  5. Every single children's product must have a tracking label by August, 2009.

CPSC Timetable [PDF, opens in new window]

Retesting Every Combination

The rules are very specific on testing, when a variable changes, you must retest. So if you are making a Spiderman® action figure and then a doll or even a smaller Spiderman® mini with the same ink and plastic batch, you must still third party test both. The rules are not clear on custom short run products like Build-a-Bear® or the Nike® custom shoes. More than likely we feel the CPSIA will require every component to be tested for situations like that.

Custom run screen printers will probably fall into this category, since it's not very practical to send 6 shirts from every order off to be tested (it would add 2 weeks and $320 to the cost of your order - ouch!). In order to comply we have sent samples of each mixed and marketed ink and thread color for testing. We feel that since the garments are still labeled under the manufacturer's label, they do not require testing. However, we are sending them for testing anyway just to be sure. CPSIA is going to decide on the frequency of testing later and we will comply with that rule.

Even if you are the one screen printer that does not carry adult mediums or smaller, why not ensure no lead has sneaked in to your production? It's the best thing for all screen printers to comply with this law. Besides the fact that it's a U.S. Law, it's the right thing to do.

Certification and consumer notification

Lab Results

Lab Results 2012 [2 MB PDF, opens in new window]

Lab Results 2008 [4.2 MB PDF, opens in new window]

Results to Product SKU Key [PDF, opens in new window]

Why don't the test results show 0 ppm lead? We asked the lab the same question. This was their reply:

The values of <5 or <9 have to do with the sample size we used and the dilution we used when diluting up your samples. In my opinion it is not feasible to report 0 ppm lead since I cannot detect "0" by any method. The only thing we can do is to report a less than value that is basically our detection limit.

As you can see from the results your samples are in many cases 100 times lower than what is allowed so your products easily meet the requirement.

Phil Rogers
Chemistry Manager
Applied Technical Services, Inc.

The CPSIA has a great feature, it requires the manufacturer to provide to the consumer all the testing data so you can be confident that the product has been tested. The data that will be provided to you in the certificate is:

  1. Identification of the product covered by this certificate
  2. Citation to each CPSC product safety regulation to which the product is being certified
  3. Identification of the US importer or domestic manufacturer certifying compliance of the product. (Name, mail, and phone)
  4. Contact information for the individual maintaining records of test results (Name, mail, email and phone)
  5. Date and place that the product was manufactured (month/year, Name, Address, City, Country)
  6. Date and place where the product was tested for compliance with the regulation(s) cited above
  7. Identification of the third party laboratory on whose testing the certification depends.

This information can be provided in paper form or electronically. We will provide it electronically by email and also online, so you have access to it anytime you'd like. We will also print the information on your invoice.

Product labeling

Labeling is another important part of the CPSIA changes, perhaps the most useful to the end consumer. All the certifications are useful to the individual receiving the shirts, but once you pass them out, the actual wearer has no clue as to if the law has been followed.

The CPSIA requires all products that require testing to be individually & permanently labeled. The label must contain manufacturer, date of manufacture, and certification information. We have been ahead of this for a while as we have always labeled our products with our manufacturer info. It's very small and integrated into the design. To comply with the CPSIA and provide the most information to the end consumer, we will make the label a custom url that you can look up on our website and get all the information!

We expect to have this lookup URL labeling in effect in advance of the August, 2009 deadline. This page will provide more details on how this feature will function.

Further Research

  • "An Act To establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children's products and to reauthorize and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission." Full Text of H.R. 4040 [PDF, opens in new window]