“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” —Jack London
Club store packaging has many advantages over conventional retail packaging. Many club stores (a large retailer that usually sells a wide variety of merchandise, in which customers are required to buy large, wholesale quantities) require that certain items be “pallet display-ready” or “floor display-ready.” These club stores have created “club pack” packaging requirements, designed to attract the spontaneous shopper, while making it easier for the club store to manage. Club packs use less material, require less handling by employees (thereby reducing the potential for injuries and lowering labor costs) and are environmentally advantageous.
Club stores identify packaging features they believe to be important and then create requirements for their stores. Some club stores want the 40″ dimension of the pallet to face the customer, while others may want a 48″ side of a pallet to be the selling face. In some cases, club stores may indicate that the consumer be able to access the goods from two, three or even four sides of the pallet or floor display.
While there are not as many hazardous materials available in club pack displays as food items and other non-hazardous goods, there is increasing demand by some club stores to provide “club packs” of beauty supplies, home improvement products and other seasonal items that are classified as dangerous goods.
While there are very specific advantages in the ability to provide these types of products in display-ready formats for club stores and big-box retailers, there are also some limitations that you must be aware of. The regulatory requirements of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, subchapter C apply to beauty supplies, home improvement products, cleaning chemicals and even certain foodstuffs that meet the definition of a hazardous material.
Aerosol consumer products may be entitled to some regulatory relief if they are packaged as Limited Quantities (LTD QTY) or classified and described as Consumer Commodities, Other Regulated Material (ORM-D). Flammable and non-flammable aerosols may be reclassed as LTD QTY or ORM-D if they are limited to no more than 1000mL (33.8 fl. oz) and packed in strong outer packaging not exceeding 30kg (66 lbs) per case.
However, the provisions of 49 CFR 173.156(b)(2) state that:
The 30 kg (66 pounds) gross weight limitation does not apply to packages of limited quantity materials marked in accordance with §172.315 of this subchapter, or, until December 31, 2020, materials classed and marked as ORM-D and described as a Consumer commodity, as defined in §171.8 of this subchapter, when offered for transportation or transported by highway or rail between a manufacturer, a distribution center and a retail outlet provided …
(i) The inner packagings conform to the quantity limits for inner packagings specified in §§173.150(b), 173.152(b), 173.154(b), 173.155(b), 173.306 (a) and (b), and 173.309(b), as appropriate;
(ii) The inner packagings are packed into corrugated fiberboard trays to prevent them from moving freely;
(iii) The trays are placed in a fiberboard box which is banded and secured to a wooden pallet by metal, fabric or plastic straps to form a single palletized unit;
(iv) The package conforms to the general packaging requirements of subpart B of this part; and
(v) The maximum net quantity of hazardous material permitted on one palletized unit is 250 kg (550 lbs).
Aerosol Club Packs
Despite the allowance given in 49 CFR 173.156(b)(2), aerosol club packs would not qualify to be reclassed and described as “LTD QTY” or “ORM-D” because they exceed 250kg (550 lbs) when packaged according to most club store requirements.
Consequently, the aerosol manufacturer or packaging company would have to seek and obtain a DOT Special Permit that would permit the higher weights needed by the club stores and big-box retailers. There are a number of “club pack” permits that aerosol suppliers may become a party to simply by applying and providing the required information (see Spray, April 2013).
One such Special Permit authorizes the shipper to offer up to 550kg (1,200 lbs) of Classes 3, 8, 9, 2.1, 2.2 or 5.1 hazardous materials as limited quantities or Other Regulated Material (ORM-D) by motor vehicle, rail car or cargo vessel, provided that the inner packaging conforms to the applicable regulatory requirements, the inner packaging is packed into trays to prevent movement and the trays are tightly packed into a large fiberboard box which shrouds the display pack. The special permit display packs are then banded and secured to a pallet with metal, fabric or plastic straps to form a single palletized unit. Each shroud is then marked with the DOT Special Permit number and either LTD QTY or Consumer Commodity, ORM-D. All other requirements and exceptions applicable to limited quantities or Consumer Commodities would still apply.
By applying for and obtaining a Special Permit to transport certain hazardous materials including aerosols as club packs in larger quantities, aerosol manufacturers and distributors may be able to offer larger quantities to club stores and other big-box retailers, thereby opening potential markets that they may not have been able to tap into because of the additional restrictions.
If manufacturers do not want to obtain their own special permit or become a party to an existing permit, they may be able to prepare these products through one of several club pack design and packaging firms that are parties to this special permit.
To learn more about obtaining or using a special permit for club packs, aerosol manufacturers are encouraged to contact the author by phone at +1 (310) 370-3600 or by e-mail at [email protected]