Shipping and airfreight associations unite against rogue battery shipments

Lithium batteries are used in electric cars. Safety concerns around the transport of these batteries has prompted industry action. Credit: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP via Getty Images

The Global Shippers Forum (GSF) has partnered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) to ensure the safe air transport of lithium batteries.

Consumer demand for lithium-based battery formulations is presently growing 17% year-on-year. However, the number of safety incidents involving misdeclared or undeclared lithium batteries has also risen with this increased demand.

“The shipping industry is now uniting to raise awareness of the need to comply. This includes the launching of an incident reporting tool so that information on rogue shippers is shared, and we are also asking governments to get much tougher with fines and penalties,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

The four trade organisations have also renewed calls for governments to crack down on the makers of counterfeit batteries, as well as those who introduce non-compliant shipments into the supply chain, by issuing and enforcing criminal sanctions.

The new campaign includes three specific initiatives: the creation of a new incident reporting and alert system for airlines, an industry awareness campaign on the dangers of shipping undeclared and misdeclared lithium batteries and the facilitation of a joined-up industry approach.

Currently, air cargo is only scanned for items that pose a risk to security, such as explosives, but not safety, such as lithium batteries.

“Responsible shippers rely on government enforcement of standards to protect their investment in training and safe operating procedures,” said James Hookham, secretary general, the GSF. “Airfreight remains a vital link in international supply chains and it is essential that the rules for ensuring the safe movement of all cargoes are understood and acted on by all parties involved.”