Ink Cartridges and Printers from China-based Ninestar Corp. banned in the U.S. for its recognized use of Forced Labor

Ink Cartridges and Printers from China-based Ninestar Corp. banned in the U.S. for its recognized use of Forced Labor

, by Planet Green, 4 min reading time

On June 9, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security took a significant step towards addressing forced labor concerns by including China-based printer and cartridge manufacturer Ninestar in the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) Entity List. This addition renders the importation of Ninestar products illegal after the specified date.

Ninestar's placement on the UFLPA Entity List is a consequence of their alleged collaboration with the Xinjiang government to engage in activities such as recruiting, transporting, and harboring forced labor from Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other persecuted groups. This move by the U.S. government aims to combat such practices. Notably, eight subsidiaries of Ninestar were also subjected to import bans under UFPLA regulations.

Introduced to the U.S. Congress on July 18th, the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act seeks to mandate public companies to divulge information about the importation of goods manufactured or sourced, either wholly or partially, from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or through state-supported labor transfer programs relocating Uyghurs and other oppressed Muslim minorities to different parts of China. The proposed legislation aims to promote transparency and accountability in supply chains by publishing this information on the Securities and Exchange Commission's website.

However, it is disconcerting to observe that these products continue to be available for purchase under various brand names, particularly on e-commerce platforms. One of the well-known sellers, Amazon, is a notable platform where these products persistently appear. Despite Ninestar being the world's third-largest printer and printer cartridge manufacturer, operating under numerous brand identities, this ongoing sale perpetuates an industry that capitalizes on modern-day slavery.

The utilization of forced labor is a grave violation of human rights, subjecting workers to deplorable conditions including physical abuse, restricted mobility, inadequate wages or non-payment, hazardous workplaces, and other forms of exploitation. As conscientious consumers, it is our ethical responsibility to ensure our purchases do not inadvertently contribute to such injustices.

The UFLPA Entity List inclusion of Ninestar underwent meticulous scrutiny and endorsement from key stakeholders, including the U.S. Trade Representatives and various governmental departments like Homeland Security, Labor, State, Treasury, Justice, and Commerce. These actions underscore the gravity of the issue.

Eric Choy, Executive Director of Trade Remedy Law Enforcement for U.S. CBP, emphasized in a recent interview that U.S. entities can be held accountable, both civilly and criminally, for knowingly trading in Ninestar products imported after June 12th. This reflects the U.S. legal stance on the matter, where the sale of such products is met with civil and criminal consequences under Title 18 of U.S. Criminal Law.

Although the implications are challenging for certain stakeholders, the situation's reality is straightforward – suppliers consciously offering newly imported Ninestar products expose themselves to potential legal ramifications as outlined in U.S. law.

In response to these developments, numerous entities ranging from federal and state institutions to prominent corporations have opted to sever ties with Ninestar due to concerns about compliance with social standards.

The use of "forced labor" directly contradicts the purchasing policies and regulations established by various customers, requiring suppliers to adhere to stringent social compliance guidelines. The U.S. Government's determination that Ninestar engaged in forced labor activities has led to the effective prohibition of purchasing or selling Ninestar products under these social compliance policies. Consequently, legal and compliance divisions of major corporations are removing Ninestar products from their offerings. Continuing to sell these products to such customers may result in contractual breaches and potential legal repercussions for suppliers.

Ninestar's official statement expresses "surprise" at being added to the UFLPA Entity List and vehemently condemns all forms of forced labor. These sentiments align with the broader stance of the Chinese government on the issue. However, even if Ninestar's assertions are taken at face value – even if they disavow involvement in "forced labor" and claim to pay workers a "fair wage" – the Government has collectively decided that any collaboration with the Xinjiang government as described warrants inclusion in the UFLPA entity list, effectively making their product imports illegal in the United States.

The UFLPA's "rebuttable presumption" principle carries significant weight, as elucidated by several analysts and publications. Upon an entity's addition to the UFLPA list, a presumption is established that goods produced by that entity involve forced labor and are ineligible for entry into the United States. This principle is a cornerstone of the UFLPA and diverges from the "innocent until proven guilty" principle prevalent in U.S. law.

Overcoming the rebuttable presumption requires an exceedingly high burden of proof, rendering it nearly insurmountable. In Ninestar's case, they must provide clear and convincing evidence that they did not engage in collaboration with the Xinjiang government for activities related to forced labor or the relocation of persecuted groups out of Xinjiang.

Given the formidable nature of this burden, no entity added to the UFLPA list has successfully been removed or granted relief. Consequently, the only plausible avenue for Ninestar products to enter the country in the foreseeable future is through illegal means.

 

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