Just like people, packaging needs a passport if it is to travel internationally. In the case of packaging, that passport is a UN number.
The United Nations has standards for packaging that is intended to transport hazardous material, especially across international boundaries. These are carefully calibrated to encompass the standards of major countries and international organizations, like the United States and the European Union. They rate the potential danger of the material being packaged, from extreme (level I) to medium (level II) to less (III). They also take into account factors such as the means of transportation, the distances involved, and loading methods.
UN numbers for packages carrying hazardous material are assigned by certification agencies duly authorized by the United Nations, which apply tests described in Chapter 6.1 of the UN Model Regulations. Individual nations have differing standards for how long they will accept a UN number. In England and France, the duration is five years; in Belgium and Holland, it is unlimited.
Generally speaking, the manufacturer/shipper of hazardous materials is responsible for transporting them safely. However, in most cases, manufacturers will assign their bulk packaging suppliers the responsibility of conducting the tests required to get a UN license and shipping number. These tests include stacking strength, drop impact, vibration resistance, and water absorption.
Most food products are not considered hazardous materials, but there are exceptions. For instance, bulk powdered products can present a risk of explosion, especially when the material is of high electrical resistance (which allows static electricity to build up). Certain types of edible oils can catch fire if exposed to high temperatures. Even without the question of hazards, meeting UN specs can help assure end users of bulk products, such as food manufacturers, of a package’s strength and integrity.
CDF and UN Packaging
CDF Corp. has UN certification for its intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) with flexible interiors and its bag-in-box containers, as well as its drum and pail liners. CDF engaged Ten-E Packaging Services, an agency authorized to grant UN numbers as well as certification from the U.S. Department of Transportation, for the testing.
CDF’s bag-in-box and IBCs passed tests for the highest levels of protection for packaging that combines a fiberboard box with a plastic bag. The tests included dropping packages from 47.2 inches on their tops, bottoms, sides, and a corner; stacking them for 24 hours while filled with 669 pounds worth of product; and vibration at 4.1 Hz for one hour. The tests certified that the packages are allowed to carry Levels II and III hazardous material under UN regulations.
Want to know more about UN packaging from CDF? Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.