Understanding UN Packaging Norms

The packaging industry has a responsibility towards both their customers as well as the environment. This is even more essential while transporting hazardous materials. That is why, for a more global perspective, the industry follows the United Nations Packaging recommendations. This packing legislation is based on passing – the minimum performance specification-tests.


The United Nations (UN) Packaging regulations for the safe transport of dangerous goods, recommend – The Hazardous Materials Regulations (Title 49 CFR Parts 100-185). They have been published by the US Department Of Transport. The Title 49 basically defines the bare minimum packaging standards that are applicable in design and manufacturing of hazardous material. These specifications then form the basis of packaging innovation, on which the packaging will be tested. These norms are applicable for the packaging and transportation of hazardous materials.


The challenge in front of the package design engineers is, that how can they introduce packaging options, that are cost effective as well as stronger than before. They have the latest technology as a resource and aid, which they can use to come up with manufacturing drums that are perfect for transporting hazardous materials. The Title 49 is applicable within the United States, packaging through the utilization of the newest technology and materials to produce stronger, more economical packaging for the industry. The Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations defines the standards for the transportation of hazardous materials within the United States. Other nations may have their own standards in their jurisdiction, but the international reference is the UN Packaging tests only.


Now, the term hazardous material can be understood as goods that are radioactive, flammable, explosive, or acidic. However, they may also include chemical products for user consumption like-paints, solvents and pesticides. These products/liquids have the potential to be poisonous for those transporting it, or to people that may come in the route. That is why they have be to packaged well, so that there is no chance of a leak or damage during transportation. Once the packaging is complete, it is then tested against the appropriate UN specification to ensure that it is safe for the carriage of the dangerous products/goods in question.


A packaging that passes the specification test is then type-approved, and is marked in a particular fashion, – the UN logo comes in first, followed by the codes. Another thing that is of utmost importance is that, the packaging supplier must provide the necessary information for the transportation team. The transporters must have clear Closure Instructions, as to how to close the package/ keep it and what to do in case of emergencies, like if the transportation vehicle or the truck was hit or overturned.


The industrial process of production, distribution and consumption is aided by the packaging cell. That is why, packaging needs special attention. Even more so in case of hazardous goods, as they pose a huge danger to the environment too. That is why, specialized packaging manufacturers are best trusted for securing dangerous goods. They are armed with the latest technology-guided by quality standards and inspired by the latest innovations- hence they manufacture packing materials like steel drums, that ensure secure transportation of hazardous goods, anywhere on the planet.


Apart from the UN packaging specifications and testing, in the United States, some of these manufacturers take care to follow the guidelines set by the Department of Energy, and military specifications – DOE 7A Type A. This is mandatory in the case of radioactive materials.


The writer is Howard Skolnik, an expert in the manufacturing of standard carbon steel, salvage drums, stainless steel drums and overpack drums.

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