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toy industry auditing begins in earnest

December 2003

The global toy industry has appointed five companies to check whether manufacturing sites adhere to ethical business principles.

The five companies – Benchmarks, Bureau Veritas, Cal Safety Compliance, the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency and Intertek Testing Services – have been asked by the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) to determine whether toy factories comply with its code of business practices. The code, introduced in 1995 and revised in 2001, lists standards on issues such as fair pay, working conditions and child labour.

The move is the latest in the industry’s ‘ethical manufacturing initiative’, which aims for 80 per cent of toys sold worldwide to be made in factories approved by ICTI-accredited auditors within three years.

The five auditing firms, picked after a five-month selection process, will initially investigate factories in China, where 75 per cent of toys marketed in Europe and the US are made. Audits have begun at sites in Guangdong province, including facilities owned by Jetta, Radica, Smile and Wynnewood. ICTI’s goal is to have 500 audits completed in the first year and it expects to approve more auditors soon. About 2800 factories in China have toy export licences.

ICTI, a confederation of 20 national trade associations whose members sell 95 per cent of the world’s toys, says many manufacturers are unlikely to meet the code’s standards at first, but it wants the audits to spur improvements. Factories that pass an audit can label their products as compliant with the code. The world toy market was worth $69billion (£41bn) in 2000.




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