USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #07-0162 ([Reckitt Benckiser, Inc.] [Mr. Richard Hessen])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Reckitt Benckiser, Inc.

Individual Name: Mr. Richard Hessen

Location State: OH Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

Oct 17, 2007

Mr. Richard Hessen                              Reference No. 07-0162

Transportation Regulatory

Reckitt Benckiser, Inc.

399 Interpace Parkway

Parsippany, NJ 07054-0225

Dear Mr. Hessen:

This is in response to your August 7, 2007 letter concerning shrink-wrapped and stretch- wrapped trays as their use is authorized under § 173.25(b) of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). Specifically, you ask several questions about how these packagings are defined and constructed under the HMR. Your questions are paraphrased and answered below.

Q1. Do the HMR define what shrink-wrapped and stretch-wrapped tray packagings are, what they are composed of, and how they are to be constructed as these terms are used under 173.25(b)?

Al. The HMR do not define "shrink-wrapped tray" or "stretch-wrapped tray" packaging. However, we interpret these terms individually to mean:

  • Shrink wrap - a plastic film wrapped around hazardous material packages or packagings that shrinks when heat is applied to form a tight protective fit around the items it covers.
  • Stretch wrap - an elastic plastic film wrapped around hazardous material packages or packagings that uses its properties of elastic recovery to keep the items it covers tightly bound.
  • Tray - a shallow flat receptacle with a raised edge or rim used to carry, hold, or display articles.

Under the HMR, shrink-wrapped and stretch-wrapped trays are considered "overpacks" for consolidating inner packagings of limited quantity or consumer commodity hazardous materials. See § 173.25(b). Under § 171.8 , the HMR define an overpack as an enclosure used by a single consignor to provide protection or convenience in package handling, or to consolidate two or more packages. An overpack is excepted from the requirements in Subpart K of Part 178 of the HMR. Section 171.8 also defines an "inner packaging" as a packaging, other than the inner receptacle of a composite packaging, that requires an outer packaging for transport. Under the HMR, inner packagings of shrink-wrapped and stretch-wrapped trays may not be fragile, liable to break, or easily punctured. The gross weight of a complete shrink-wrapped or stretch-wrapped package may not exceed 20 kg (44 pounds). See § 173 .25(b)( 1) and (b)(2). Although, the HMR require shrink-wrapped and stretch- wrapped packagings to conform with the general packaging requirements prescribed in § 173.24 and 173.24a, the HMR do not prescribe requirements as to how these packagings are to be constructed and what materials may be used for their manufacture.

Q2. Must a shrink-wrap or stretch-wrap tray have a bottom and four upright sides made of corrugated fiberboard?

A2. The answer is no. A shrink-wrap or stretch-wrap tray may be composed of any material that is compatible with the lading provided the packaging contains a tray, as defined in Answer Al, and meets all other applicable requirements prescribed for the packaging in the HMR.

Q3. May a shrink-wrap or stretch-wrap tray be composed of inner packagings placed on a flat sheet of corrugated fiberboard with no sides and the entire package shrink or stretch wrapped on all sides?

A3. No. Because a flat sheet of corrugated fiberboard does not have a raised edge or rim to contain the inner packagings, it does not meet the definition of a tray stated in answer Al.

Q4. Can a shrink-wrap or stretch-wrap tray be composed only of inner packagings that are wrapped together with heavy-gauge strong plastic wrap?

A4. No. These packagings do not contain a tray.

I hope this satisfies your request.


Hattie L. Mitchell, Chief

Regulatory Review and Reinvention

Office of Hazardous Materials Standards

173.25, 171.8

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
173.25 Authorized packagings and overpacks