USPS Updates Mailing Standard for Separation of Hazmat

Written By: Atanu Das on Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Effective on June 6, 2022, Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail is now more detailed on the requirements for proper labeling and separation of hazardous materials offered for the US mail.

As described in the Federal Register, "misrouted and mishandled HAZMAT can and does cause fires, spills, corrosion, and other dangers to personnel and equipment of the Postal Service, air carriers, and surface transportation providers, as well as to mailers’ property and to aircraft passengers."

Summary of The New Measures

The USPS outlines the following two conditions to ensure the proper handling of HAZMAT:

The first condition is visibility: The Postal Service must be aware of HAZMAT shipments in order to accord them appropriate attention. A HAZMAT package can easily evade postal HAZMAT processing if it is nestled beneath non-HAZMAT packages in a bulk mail receptacle. To address this problem, the Postal Service will require mailers tendering a mix of HAZMAT and non-HAZMAT items to present them separately.

The second condition is separation integrity: Once recognized, the Postal Service must ensure that HAZMAT is not commingled with non-HAZMAT, lest it be improperly handled or routed. Therefore, the Postal Service is directing personnel to keep HAZMAT items separate from non-HAZMAT items at all points in the mailstream.

This interim final rule also introduces specific labeling requirements for packages containing pre-owned, damaged, or defective electronic devices containing or packed with lithium batteries, and bars them from eligibility for any Postal Service product that makes routine use of air transportation. Among other things, mailings covered by the new requirements include used items sent pursuant to e-commerce or private sales transactions; lost items being returned to the owner; and items sent for repair, replacement, upgrade, warranty service, diagnostics, recycling, or insurance claims. For clarity, preowned electronic devices exclude those that are in new, unopened manufacturer packaging