In August, industry compliance and product safety professionals took part in PPAI’s virtual Product Responsibility Summit 2021 Direct-2-You (D2U). Running August 16-19, the four-day virtual event explored the business implications, challenges and opportunities of regulatory issues. PPAI also held a new event immediately following Summit, Logistics Day Direct-2-You. The stand-alone event offered education focused on the logistics of importing in today’s world and discussed the challenges and pitfalls of international shipping along with best practices on moving forward. 

“The Product Responsibility Action Group [PRAG], along with PPAI staff, diligently worked this year to bring Summit to industry members,” says Brian Campbell, vice president of supply chain compliance at distributor 4imprint, and chair of PRAG. “There was a variety of content and our goal was to make sure it spoke to attendees by providing new insight, perspective and information that they have come to expect from Summit in regards to product responsibility. In doing that, we were able to bring in expert speakers on topics that we felt are timely and relevant.”

Summit’s programming featured a range of presentations, panel discussions, breakout sessions and roundtables that brought together experts from both the larger compliance and product responsibility field and the promotional products industry. 

In the virtual conference’s opening session, Amanda Levitt, a senior associate with Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, whose practice is focused on international trade and customs law, particularly relating to classification and marking/country-of-origin issues, addressed the detention of imported merchandise due to potential forced labor violations, the steps importers can take to ensure there is no forced labor in their supply chain, the legal framework for forced labor and new labor provisions, and options available to importers when their goods are detained.

“Ahead, we can expect more detentions and withhold release orders (WROs), potential new regulations, legislation related to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and possibly forced labor globally,” Levitt said. “For now, importers should consider digging deeper into their supply chain, look out for mandates from buyers to provide traceability documents and audit reports, and for opportunities for exporters with the best traceability and labor standards to gain new business.”

Other Summit sessions explored Prop 65 settlement trends, best practices in establishing proper standards of care for promotional products, recycling material standards and simplified sustainability reports, restricted substance lists, FDA requirements and more. Summit attendees also received a legislative update on regulatory developments.

Another Summit speaker, Hilde Gunn Vestad, a former director at Lidl, shared 20 years of real-world supply chain mapping experience. In a conversation with Brian Campbell, vice president of supply chain compliance at 4imprint, and Nathan Cotter, vice president of compliance at Hit Promotional Products, she shared numerous best practices regarding supply chain mapping.

“Transparency is inevitable; it’s coming from a customer perspective,” Vestad said. “It is fair to say that mapping will be built into our businesses. Customers expect it. Transparency is the backbone of sustainability. You cannot achieve sustainability without transparency. No company in the world is going to get away from this. It is everywhere.”

Robert Adler, acting chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), also joined the conference, speaking with Rick Brenner, MAS+, president/CEO of Product Safety Advisors, for a conversation on the current priorities of the federal agency. During their discussion, Adler shared an update on three commissioner nominees to CPSC put forth by the Biden Administration to fill pending vacancies, the CPSC’s work with the FDA to ensure there are no regulatory overlaps regarding PPE and other items falling under FDA jurisdiction as medical devices, and how the CPSC has faired under the COVID-19 pandemic, among other topics.

“Summit is the best educational tool for anyone in compliance,” says Kim Bakalyar, CAS, chief compliance officer/director vendor relations at PromoShop and a Summit attendee. “The topics are relevant to what is happening in the world today and the speakers are experts in their field. I always come away from Summit with at least two things I can put into practice right away. Having the opportunity to network with others in the same position and being able to call on this group when I have questions or am looking for info is invaluable. The wealth of information and best practices that PPAI has put together are my daily go-tos for research, contacts and answers.”


James Khattak is news editor of PPB.