Retail Business Poly Bag Packaging Law Requirements

October 2016

This blog post was sponsored by Rook Pack. My voice and article content was not influenced. #RookPackBags are suffocation warning compliant poly bags.

Suffocation warnings help prevent child asphyxiation due to poly bags

Plastic poly bag suffocation warnings

I am almost positive that you have seen bag labels with obvious suffocation warnings along the lines of “WARNING: This bag is not a toy. Do not use in cribs.”

As a kid, I thought suffocation warnings were ridiculous. I figured that anyone who did not innately perceive these precautions probably could not read or comprehend these warnings.

The warnings were so ubiquitous that I hardly thought much of them through my teens until I was in Mexico and saw a child with a plastic bag over her head.

Girl wearing plastic bag over her head - poly bag warning label post

Photo I took of the girl wearing a non-perforated plastic poly bag over her head.

I wondered if that bag had a warning label.
I wondered if Mexico’s laws regulated such bags.
But mostly, I thought about how that child could suffocate and the father could then probably sue the company that supplied the bag—and win.

Back then I did not recognize my interest in bag labeling requirements as fashion law. Fashion law was not even a recognized field.

But poly bag warnings and label requirements are indeed fashion law liability concerns.

Fashion lawyers and retail businesses should be aware of poly bag packaging law requirements.

Current poly bag warning label requirements

A poly bag with an opening of at least 5 inches should have a suffocation warning. The suffocation warning can be either printed on the bag itself, or attached as a label.

A warning label may unlikely prevent a possible death in the scenario above; however, a proper suffocation warning could alleviate the liability of a company over harm caused by the bag.

Suffocation warnings vary by jurisdiction

Five states have regulations on suffocation warnings for certain plastic bags. Suffocation warning requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Each state’s regulations and statutes specify the warning statements to be used.

In California and Rhode Island, alternative language may be used so long as it is substantially equivalent. In Massachusetts and New York, alternate wording must be approved by the appropriate state agency. Virginia only requires warnings on plastic dry cleaning bags.

Poly bag mailer requirements for Amazon FBA

Companies can limit liability through product labels

Suffocation warnings on bags included with retail products are an easy way to limit liability.

It is smart for every company whose products are sold online to use bags with suffocation warnings. Even if a company is based in a state that does not require poly bag warnings, the company may likely sell to someone in a state that requires the warnings.

Limiting liability this way can help keep a retailer out of court.

There are no federal requirements for suffocation warnings

Amazon’s FBA inventory packaging and prep requirements is representative of how despite the lack of federal requirements, warehouse fulfillment services and marketplaces require plastic bag suffocation warnings.

#RookPackBags are Amazon FBA ready. These poly bags have the suffocation warnings in 3 languages.

Services like Amazon FBA require suffocation warnings because online consumers can be located anywhere.

Large retailers in Europe also require these suffocation warnings although there is no EU law requiring such.

Child suffocation possibilities from a bag can occur if children place bags over their heads or if a flexible plastic otherwise creates a seal over over a child’s nose and mouth. This harm is more probable amongst infants.

Although the children who are at highest risk cannot even read the warnings, a retailer’s notice can serve as a helpful reminder to consumers.

Comply with Amazon FBA suffocation warningsRook Pack’s poly bags with pre-printed suffocation warnings are available in many sizes and are an easy way to make a product consumer ready and Amazon FBA compliant.

Rook Pack poly bags product highlights:

  • Polyethylene bag (type of plastic that is durable and flexible, thus required by many fulfillment warehouses).
  • Suffocation warning compliant in 3 languages (making it possible to ship products to the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico)
  • 1.5 mil thickness (which is a non-flimsy standard thickness required at most fulfillment centers and Amazon FBA)
  • “Ready to Ship” strip (like Amazon uses on their official poly bags; this strip tells Amazon FBA workers that the items are ready to ship as they are and don’t need to be broken apart (ie-if you sell things in sets this will discourage FBA fulfillment workers from breaking up your sets))
  • Glue strip with peel away protective strip

Amazon FBA poly bag requirements:

  • Poly bags with a 5″ opening or larger (measured when flat) are required to have a suffocation warning
  • The warning should be printed or placed in a prominent location and in a legible font size for the size of the bag
  • The thickness of the bag must be at least 1.5 mils
  • The poly bag must be transparent
  • Poly bag or shrink wrap must not protrude more than 3″ past the dimensions of the product
  • The poly bag must have a barcode (UPC, EAN, etc) or an X00-label that is scannable through the bag or have an X00- or ASIN-label on the outside of the bag.
  • Poly bags must be completely sealed

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