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31 million reasons for reshoring

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22. January 2014

A shrinking wage gap, intellectual property concerns, and domestic productivity gains are three factors many give for the North American reshoring resurgence, but an injection molder just gave me 31 million. Actually, he gave me two (the product safety hubbubs following massive 2007 and 2010 recalls by Mattel and McDonald’s) but they involved 19 million toys and 12 million glasses sourced from China.
 

Mattel’s 2007 recall, involving lead paint on die-cast cars and too-powerful magnets, was followed three years later by a 2010 McDonald’s recall of 12-million Shrek-themed glasses, which had trace amounts of the heavy metal, cadmium. More than a few outlets took the opportunity to dub the kid’s menu freebies as, you guessed it, “Unhappy Meals.”
 

I’m currently working on a feature for the March issue of Plastics Technology covering the reshoring trend in manufacturing and its specific impacts on the plastics processing industry.
 

The injection molder I spoke with said a not-insignificant portion of the reshoring work his shop has received has come from customers concerned about the validity of the material certifications on their products. Beyond quality (think about the mechanical properties of mixed scrap vs. virgin resins), the concerns come down to liability and the safety of sensitive products.
 

Recalls, and the liability around them, are an ever-present issue for retailers and OEMs (there have been three recalls so far today), but that doesn’t mean companies won’t do everything they can to avoid them, including revamping entire supply chains.

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