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New Global Measures - Avoidance Of Contamination Of Containers


During the Global Shippers Forum (GSF), The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) stated that the development of new global measures for the avoidance of contamination of sea containers by invasive pests and cargoes will have a significant impact on international trade operational and reporting practices.


Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and APSA representatives had the privilege of supporting the GSF by participating and presenting at the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) International Workshop on Sea Container Cleanliness held in London on 19-20 September 2022.


The goal of the workshop is to further identify ways that key parties can reduce the risk of pest contamination of containers and their cargoes throughout the supply chain. Industry-led initiatives to reduce risks of pest contamination of intermodal containers will be discussed with findings to undoubtedly feed into broader IPPC / CPM Focus Group deliberations


Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) Focus Group

This group is expected to compile recommendations for mandatory measures for the cleanliness of containers during the first quarter of 2023.This included the concept of ‘Custodial Responsibility’ where named parties in the supply chain are to be held responsible for the cleanliness of the container and the absence of pest contamination. It is noted that the ‘shipping line’ and ‘container operator’ are proposed to be exempt from having custodial responsibility.


Verified Pest Prevention’ (VPP) declarations:

This is another programme that will draw on risk reduction measures and practices devised by industry. Developed by the World Shipping Council (WSC) that would require exporters or their forwarding agent to present a signed declaration to the carrier that a container was pest-free at the time of shipment, otherwise the container would not be accepted for carriage. This proposal appears to be closely modelled on existing Verified Gross Mass (VGM) declarations.


GSF action items:


Seeking further detail about the VPP in terms of exporter and freight forwarder liability, potential administrative costs and overall benefit as a biosecurity safeguard.


GSF will consolidate its position on the CPM’s proposed measures, as well pursuing its own proposals for presentation to the Focus Group including:

• the mandatory display of a ‘Container Safety and Cleanliness Placard’, by container owners/lessors/operators;

• use and promotion of the 'P.E.S.T. acronym' (Push-back, Exclude, Store, Tell) to summarise the essential actions exporters and packers should take to minimise the risk of pest contamination of containers whilst in their custody; and

• information aids accessible to container packers and facility management on mobile devices.


In another significant development, following involvement in the inaugural workshop in London, FTA / APSA have accepted an invitation from the IPPC of being on the Steering Committee of the second International Workshop on Sea Container Cleanliness to be hosted in Brisbane on 17-19 July 2023 with DAFF as the host National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO).


Amongst other pertinent policy and operational matters, FTA / APSA representatives are meeting with DAFF executive in Canberra on 7 March 2023 to address the IPPC initiatives and next steps in the Biosecurity Innovation Program deliverable.



Your Role:


While shipping containers are incredibly robust and hardwearing, they are not invincible, and there’s always a chance that they can become contaminated when in storage or transport. Contamination could occur naturally, but commonly is a results from mishandling or a lack of regulations. They can also be contaminated by outside pollutants or from mixing different goods together. There are many ways that containers could become contaminated, including:


  • Deterioration

  • Breakages and spillages

  • Accidents or collisions

  • Mishandling

  • Cross-contamination

  • Chemical reactions


When a contaminated container is found in port, the cargo owner, importer, or shipper

can expect:

• delayed cargo release

• demurrage charges due to cargo holds, and

• unexpected costs associated with having the container quarantined, tarped and treated,

cleaned, or re-exported back to origin at the cargo owner’s expense


It’s important to be aware of what contamination could look like when you are shipping goods in industrial containers. The most obvious sign is damage or wear and tear on the shipping container. If you notice that something doesn’t look right or is visibly damaged or worn, there’s a chance that contamination could have occurred.


You may also notice that a container has begun to rust, is dusty, or has other signs of corrosion or outside contamination. This can affect the goods inside, so it’s important to have a more thorough inspection if this occurs.


Contamination may also result from different materials or liquids reacting with one another, or with an outside influence. This can also result in visible signs or reactions. If something looks out of place, it is best to assume it is.


We hope this information assists you.

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