[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 131 (Monday, July 9, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31712-31713]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-14382]



39 CFR Part 111

New Mailing Standards for Mailpieces Containing Liquids

AGENCY: Postal ServiceTM.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: The Postal Service is proposing to revise Mailing Standards of 
the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) section 
601.3.4 to provide for more rigorous packaging requirements for 
mailpieces containing liquids.

DATES: Submit comments on or before August 8, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Mail or deliver written comments to the manager, Product 
Classification, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 4446, 
Washington, DC 20260-5015. If sending comments by email, include the 
name and address of the commenter and send to 
[email protected] with a subject line of ``New Standards 
for Liquids''. Faxed comments are not accepted. You may inspect and 
photocopy all written comments, by appointment only, at USPS 
Headquarters Library, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, 11th Floor North, 
Washington, DC 20260. These records are available for review Monday 
through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., by calling 202-268-2906.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Direct questions to Wm. Kevin Gunther 
at [email protected] or phone at (202) 268-7208, or Michelle Lassiter 
at [email protected] or phone at (202) 268-2914.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Postal Service and United States Postal 
Inspection Service (USPIS) have observed an increased frequency of 
incidents involving containers of liquids rupturing while in Postal 
Service networks. A typical result of these incidents is damage to 
surrounding mailpieces and to Postal Service equipment.
    When responding to incidents involving liquid spills, Postal 
Service employees frequently note that mailpieces containing liquids 
are often not marked on the outer mailing container as required by DMM 
601.3.4. Many of these leaking mailpieces contain plastic primary 
receptacles. Mailers often do not consider plastic primary receptacles 
to be breakable, and therefore do not cushion these primary receptacles 
with absorbent material or include secondary containers, as specified 
by DMM 601.3.4.
    The Postal Service and USPIS have also observed that spills of non-
hazardous materials in relatively small quantities can result in damage 
to surrounding mailpieces and cause temporary equipment shutdowns. This 
is especially true with viscous or oily substances, such as oils and 
lotions. These materials are often mailed by First-Class Package 
Service[supreg]. When ruptured, they will frequently leak onto other 
lightweight mailpieces containing photographs and documents.
    This proposed revision would require mailers of all liquids in 
nonmetal containers, regardless of volume, to provide triple packaging, 

[[Page 31713]]

absorbent cushioning materials, sealed secondary packaging, and a 
strong outer mailing container. The Postal Service is also adding 
language to encourage the use of locking rings when mailing metal 
containers with friction-top closures (push-down tops).
    The Postal Service believes these new mailing standards will 
prevent spills in general and reduce the frequency of incidents in 
which ruptured containers of liquid cause significant damage to 
surrounding mailpieces. The Postal Service anticipates that this 
proposed revision will result in decreased cost and time related to 
spill response, mail decontamination, site cleanup, and provide for an 
improved customer experience.
    If this proposed rule is adopted, the Postal Service will revise 
and align the language referencing the packaging of nonhazardous 
liquids located in DMM 601.3.4 and add clarifying language regarding 
the use of orientation arrows. The Postal Service will also publish an 
appropriate amendment to 39 CFR part 111 to reflect these changes. 
Finally, if the proposed rule is adopted, the Postal Service will also 
make corresponding revisions to Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, 
and Perishable Mail, section 451 to align both publications with regard 
to the packaging of liquids in its networks.
    Although exempt from the notice and comment requirements of the 
Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(b), (c)) regarding proposed 
rulemaking by 39 U.S.C. 410(a), the Postal Service invites public 
comments on the following proposed revisions to Mailing Standards of 
the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), 
incorporated by reference in the Code of Federal Regulations (see 39 
CFR 111.1).

List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 111

    Administrative practice and procedure, Incorporation by reference, 
Postal Service.

    Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the preamble, the Postal 
Service proposes that 39 CFR parts 111 and 113 be amended as follows:


1. The authority citation for 39 CFR part 111 continues to read as 

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552(a); 13 U.S.C. 301-307; 18 U.S.C. 1692-
1737; 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 414, 416, 3001-3011, 3201-3219, 
3403-3406, 3621, 3622, 3626, 3632, 3633, and 5001.

2. Revise the following sections of Mailing Standards of the United 
States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), as follows:

Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail 
Manual (DMM)

* * * * *

600 Basic Standards for All Mailing Services

601 Mailability

* * * * *

3.0 Packaging

* * * * *

3.4 Liquids

    [Revise the introductory paragraph of 3.4 to read as follows:]
    Mailers must mark the outer container of a mailpiece containing 
liquid to indicate the nature of the contents, and include orientation 
arrows in accordance with Publication 52, section 226. Mailers must 
package and mail liquids under the following conditions:
    [Revise 601.3.4a to read as follows:]
    a. Use screw-on caps with a minimum of one and one-half turns, 
soldering, clips, or similar means to close primary containers 
containing liquids. Do not use containers with friction-top closures 
(push-down tops) except as provided in 3.4d.
    [Renumber the current 601.3.4b through 601.3.4d as the new 601.3.4c 
through 601.3.4e and add a new 601.3.4b to read as follows:]
    b. The use of locking rings or similar devices is encouraged when 
mailing containers with friction-top closures (push-down tops).
* * * * *
    [Revise renumbered 601.3.4d to read as follows:]
    d. All nonmetal containers of liquids, including plastic 
containers, and metal containers with friction top closures, without 
regard to volume, must be triple-packaged according to the following 
    1. Cushion the primary container(s) with absorbent material capable 
of absorbing all of the liquid in the container(s) in case of breakage;
    2. Place the primary container inside another sealed, leakproof 
container (secondary container), such as a watertight can or plastic 
bag; and
    3. Use a strong and securely sealed outer mailing container durable 
enough to protect the contents and durable enough to withstand normal 
processing in Postal Service networks.
* * * * *

Ruth Stevenson,
Attorney, Federal Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2018-14382 Filed 7-6-18; 8:45 am]