Q: A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: The California Proposition 65 requirements that went into effect in August mean distributors now share the burden of compliance with suppliers. You can be compliant under Prop 65 by eliminating all chemicals in the product that trigger an obligation to warn. You can be equally compliant by applying a warning label to those products that will be distributed in California that contain chemicals that trigger an obligation to warn. In addition to changes in label wording and specifics, consumers must now be aware of a product’s risk prior to purchase, not just prior to exposure. How are fellow distributors managing these new requirements?


A: We are a direct-mail cataloger that drives phone conversations and we have a website that drives web orders. We have identified and marked items in our system as being Prop 65 compliant or not. Each vendor must provide paperwork to show the item’s compliance. We then save this information into a database and note compliance with a “Y” or “N” and an expiration date. Some vendors provide compliance paperwork based on individual items, and some vendors have provided paperwork as a blanket statement based on all of their items being compliant. We have tended to accept both versions, so long as they are on company letterhead. On the database management side, when the expiration date passes, it alerts me via a report to get new paperwork from the supplier and it flags that item as no longer being compliant until I enter a new expiration date.

On the customer side, if the items being purchased are compliant, no further action is necessary. If they are not complaint and the items are shipping to California, our sales team alerts our customers via a phone conversation. On the web, if it is shipping to California, the mandatory yellow triangle warning and verbiage shows up in the checkout process, which allows customers to choose alternative products if they want. This flag also alerts our distribution center to label anything that needs a label prior to leaving our warehouse. For those orders not shipping to California, we ask if they are going to be redistributed in the state of California and go through the same process, allowing us to manually check the order for the items to be flagged for labeling.

Ann Bagley, CASBaudville, Inc.Grand Rapids, Michigan


I believe California’s Prop 65 includes the manufacturer (supplier), the person who sells the item (distributor), and the person who purchases it (end user) if they resell the product. I also believe it doesn’t matter where you ship the order. So, let’s say you ship the order to New York and they then ship the product to California for a trade show. You could now be in violation of the Prop 65 law in the state of California and everyone is held responsible. This is my understanding of the law from the beginning—even before anyone knew that they had hidden this in another law that was passed way back when. So, pretty much, you need to let your clients know, 
no matter where the order is shipped.

Gregg TaftOwnerB NoticedSan Diego, California


Tap Into PPAI’s Resources

PPAI provides a wealth of information and resources including best practices, guides, webinars, videos and links to help supplier and distributors navigate product responsibility. Find these under Advocacy/Corporate Responsibility/Product Responsibility at www.ppai.org.