DOT Basis Weight Tolerances

Kevin asks –

I have a question regarding basis weight tolerances for corrugated containers that are shipping Hazardous Materials. One way it has been explained to me is that there is a letter of clarification on the books at the DOT that states the tolerances for basis weight of corrugated containers is 0%. The DOT then provides Competent Authority Approvals to manufactures that are members of the FBA or the AICC. These Competent Authority Approvals allow for a +/- 5% tolerance from what the specified basis weight of the paper should be. It has been explained to me that these Competent Authority Approvals are to be posted at the manufacturing sites of corrugated board that is used to package hazardous materials and that they have an expiration date.

Is how I just explained it correct?

Also, I understand the DOT only recognizes basis weight as a means for proving that a corrugated board is correct and will not recognize ECT or Burst testing. With the corrugated industry moving away from traditional Mullen grades of paper and manufacturing more and more ECT grades, we are experiencing more and more problems with meeting basis on boxes that are UN certified to an ECT grade of corrugated. Do you see the DOT and UN adjusting their tolerances to accommodate the industry changes?

Thank you for your time!

You have it captured very well. The most certain way of staying within the basis weight tolerances is to use Mullen grades of containerboard or have a sheet supplier that can combine sheets for you with linerboard and medium from the same mills, more specifically the same paper machines. Do you need the CA numbers for the AICC? Do you have our brochure on UN HazMat packaging? You can order it, Hazardous Materials Guide for Box Plants, from the AICC store.

— Ralph

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