The Image GroupThe Image Group

By Adam Norman

Learning the Hard Way

A new study by Ecology Center found that 71 percent of university-themed merchandise sold at major retailers contains unacceptable amounts of hazardous chemicals. Researchers at the Michigan-based nonprofit tested sixty-five items and found substances banned or restricted from consumer goods, including arsenic, lead, mercury, phthalates, and toxic flame-retardants. More than a third of the tested products contained multiple harmful chemicals.

Ecology Center tested items with imprints from nineteen national universities – from key rings to seat cushions to sports jerseys – purchased from leading chains such as Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Kroger. The hazardous chemical levels routinely exceeded standards set by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

The study highlights the risks universities assume when licensing their brands for promotional products. Beyond the regulatory requirements of safety compliance, schools face public relations consequences if the branded products they distribute do not comply with the law.

“Many of the universities represented in our study pride themselves on their efforts to green their campuses, but there’s a disconnect when university-themed products contain harmful chemicals linked to diseases like certain cancers, thyroid disruption, infertility, and learning disabilities,” says Ecology Center’s Rebecca Meuninck.

Meuninck’s comment is a lesson for all university procurement officials. Failure to meet legal and socially accepted standards can result in lasting damage to a university’s reputation.

That’s why we at The Image Group have made product safety one of our top priorities. We understand our responsibility for protecting your brand by ensuring that every product you buy from us meets all legal and social safety standards. When you obtain branded goods from The Image Group, be assured that we’ve made every effort to meet and exceed all regulatory guidelines and social standards, so that our products are safe for everyone.
Learning the Hard Way