New regulations for transporting lithium batteries
The United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods met in December 2012 to finalise amendments to the UN’s model regulations.
The changes include a new special provision (377) for lithium ion and lithium metal cells and batteries and equipment containing the cells and batteries, transported for disposal or recycling, packed together with or packed without non-lithium batteries. The model regulations allow these batteries to be packed in accordance with a new packing instruction (P909).
The batteries still need to be protected against short circuit and there are a number of options provided. These include:
• individual protection of the battery terminals
• inner packaging to prevent contact between cells and batteries
• batteries with recessed terminals
• the use of a cushioning material to fill empty spaces between the cells or batteries in the packaging.
The Australian Dangerous Goods (ADG) Code is based on the model regulations, so these changes will be considered next time the ADG Code is updated.
According to the Portable Rechargeable Batteries Association (PRBA), from 1 January 2016 shipments of waste batteries will be governed by new special provisions and packing instructions when shipped by sea. In April this year the International Maritime Organization (IMO) updated the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code by incorporating the most recent regulatory changes on damaged and defective lithium batteries and waste lithium batteries. These changes were originally adopted by the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.
PRBA Report of the World Rechargeable Battery Regulatory Forum, May 2013
United Nations: Report of the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals on its sixth session, Geneva, 14 December 2012
International Maritime Organisation: Report of the Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid cargoes and Containers (DSC) – 17th Session, 17-21 September 2012