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UN Performance Packaging FAQ

By March 29, 2023May 11th, 2023FAQs

Frequently asked questions about UN Certified Packaging.

What is UN Performance Packaging?

A receptacle and any other components or materials necessary for the receptacle to perform its containment function in conformance with United Nations (UN) specifications. This type of packaging must be certified according to a national competent authority by design qualification testing in accordance with UN standards. This will ensure the packaging is appropriate for the carriage of dangerous goods.

What is Variation Packaging?

Variation packaging allows a shipper to assemble packaging using inner containers that are different than those that were tested. For example, a container needs to be shipped, but is not the inner container of any combination packaging (i.e. lab samples), or a company has several products in different types of containers and wants to simplify packaging selection. When using variation packaging, a shipper must follow the manufacturer’s packing instructions for assembly. This would include following the required cushioning distances, using enough absorbent to absorb entire liquid contents and observing the maximum gross weight of inner packagings and the maximum gross weight of the completed package.

What is the difference between single packaging and combination packaging?

Combination packaging means a combination of packaging, for transport purposes, consisting of one or more inner packagings secured in an outer packaging in accordance with the applicable transport regulations (IATA/ICAO, IMDG, 49CFR, TDGR, etc.). For example, two one liter plastic bottles held securely in place by an insert inside an outer fibreboard box. Single packagings are packagings which do not require any inner packaging in order to perform their containment function, such as a five gallon steel pail.

What are packing instructions?

Packing instructions or packaging authorizations are found in national and international regulations and show the acceptable or authorized packaging a shipper may use to carry dangerous goods.

Packaging manufacturers are also required to provide information on how to assemble UN packaging to ensure that they are capable of passing applicable performance testing when offered for transport. This information is commonly referred to as the manufacturer’s packaging instructions.

How do I find out what the UN marking on my package means?

A description of the UN specification markings can be found in every transport regulation or standard. For example:

  • UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods – Part 6
  • IATA Dangerous Good Regulations – Section 6
  • ICAO Technical Instructions – Part 6
  • IMDG Code – Chapter 6
  • US 49 CFR – Part 178
  • Canadian CGSB – CGSB-43.150-97, section 4 (small means of containment); CGSB-43.146-2002, section 5 (IBC’s)

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