Correct container Weights Save Lives

Misdeclaration of the gross mass of a packed container can compromise the safety of shipping vessels by leading to incorrect stowage decisions and potentially collapsed or imbalanced container stacks. In a worldwide effort to improve shipping safety, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require that all export containers require their Verified Gross Mass (VGM) to be submitted prior to arrival at the shipping terminal. The requirement will become legally effective on July 1st 2016. After which, it would be a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container onto a vessel if the vessel operator and marine terminal operator do not have a verified container weight.

The global rule stipulates the verified container weight is obtained by permissible methodology; for recovered Paper and Plastic this would be via a certified weighbridge. Weights may be submitted to operators by various methods; in Australia 1-Stop has released a new Pre-Receival Advice (PRA) which asks for VGM information, including Weight Certificate details, before you can book a slot at the wharf. The required fields include the name of the Weight Certificate issuer and the method by which it was obtained. Fines for non-compliance are severe. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has outlined a penalty regime of 50 penalty units, at $180 per penalty unit (Marine Order 42, Section 12 (1)-(3)). This equates to $9,000 for breaches that will be considered strict liability offences.


The VGM policy will need to be addressed carefully by recovered materials exporters. Attention needs to be given at all levels from large FAS suppliers, to SME’s, and to transport companies so that container weighing and reporting happens every time with notifications given in ample time to the shipper and operators. Under Legal advice and information from shipping lines, Paper to Paper notes it is the supplier’s responsibility to follow their contracted terms and conditions which apply for environmental inspection, compliance to the grade definition that they are tendering for sale, and now also for weight accuracy. 

The new global VGM law, similar to road weight rules will save lives and we trust that we can be of assistance to any supplier and their transport company to ensure container weight accuracy in the coming months. Our future purchase contracts will contain the new VGM condition as well as the new ISRI grade definition changes.

Please do not delay contacting our office for any clarification and support.