Protecting hazmat with packaging

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The transport of hazardous materials entails a number of risks. They can cause damage to people, animals and the environment which is why shipping hazmat is subject to strict regulations. Packaging can limit those risks to a certain extent but which criteria should good packaging meet?

Strict regulations for shipping hazmat

The United Nations (UN) provide strict regulations on the packaging used to transport dangerous goods, particularly when it comes to protection against leakage. Also:

  • The packaging material and closure must safeguard against contamination with its contents
  • The packaging material must not have dangerous or harmful compounds within its ingredients
  • The packaging and its closure must be strong all-over

When hazmat is transported by air, packaging must also protect against the drop in atmospheric pressure which can cause containers to implode.

Only packaging with a valid UN marking

Hazardous goods can only be shipped in packaging with a valid UN marking. A UN certified pack has been submitted to extensive testing and has successfully passed a series of dropping and stability tests. The intensity of testing depends on the packaging group. A UN marking is embossed on the container and is valid five years after production.

Determining which packaging to use

Based on their hazard properties, all chemicals are awarded a UN number, which determines how they should be transported. The UN number can be found on the Material Safety Data Sheet of a chemical. The MSDS also mentions into which packaging group the chemical falls. Each UN marking contains a letter that corresponds with a packaging group (see image below).

The relevant regulation determines, based on the UN number, which type of packaging and UN marking are required and if possibly additional requirements must be met. Because of its construction, CurTec packaging is only suitable for solids and classified as type 1H2.

Beside the packaging type, the packaging group and the year of production, the UN marking also shows the maximum gross weight which needs to be respected. Finally, the transport mode (road, rail, water or air transport) can impose additional requirements.

Hazmat violations

Ensuring you comply with hazmat regulations

Choosing suitable packaging is just one aspect of shipping hazmat. Annually, 54% of all dangerous goods are rejected for shipment because they do not meet all the necessary criteria. Learn more in the interview with Maxence Wittebolle of the Belgian Packaging Institute (BVI).


Make sure you comply with hazmat regulation. Would you like to know which packaging is suitable for your hazmat? Send us the MSDS and we give you free advice.

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