The Importance of Understanding ORM-D Labels For E-Commerce Businesses

As an ecommerce business, you understand the growth potential of online businesses. We’ll let the numbers speak for themselves: 40 percent of worldwide Internet users have purchased goods or products online across multiple devices, amounting to over 1 billion online buyers, a number that’s continuously growing. Ecommerce businesses face a number of challenges on the path to growth, but this is especially true for businesses that sell products that require an ORM-D label. What is ORM-D, you ask? ORM-D is a special marking on packages being shipped in the Unites States that uniquely identifies the parcel as containing hazardous material in limited quantity.

Products That Require ORM-D Labels

Many household goods and consumer products seem harmless in practice, but could be problematic during transportation. Some products become hazardous when they are shaken, exposed to pressure changes, or temperature changes. Here are a few products that require ORM-D labels:

  • Perfumes
  • Nail Polish
  • Hairspray
  • Cleansers and Detergents
  • Aftershave treatments
  • Oils for personal or therapeutic use
  • Self-tanning products
  • Mousse or foams
  • Insect repellents
  • Antiseptics and disinfectants
  • Foot odor
  • Wart treatments
  • Nasal spray and inhalers
  • Drain openers
  • Aerosol cans
  • Medicines
  • Lighters


Fitting The Requirements

Regulations have changed, and one of those changes is the designation from “Consumer Quantity” to “Limited Quantity.” For an ORM-D label, the first requirement is now “limited quantity.” To pass the marking for limited quantity, packaging has to meet certain physical requirements. They must be able to sustain a 4-foot drop test and 10-foot stacking test.

Regulatory requirements are constantly evolving, and carriers like UPS list requirements for future years on their website. Beginning next year, for example, ground service shipments of Nitric Acid (included in many household cleaning items) will require improved packaging and emergency contact telephone numbers on Hazmat shipping papers can only exclusively include numbers – no letters.

ORM-D Carrier Rules

Rules vary from carrier to carrier to carrier, and FedEx and UPS tend to be have stricter rules than required by law. Both FedEx Ground and UPS Ground do not require a shipping contract for ORM-D-labeled packages, unless they are being delivered to Alaska or Hawaii. However, they are required to conform to all applicable regulatory and UPS requirements as stated by the  International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Department of Transportation (D.O.T.), and various other regulatory bodies. Currently, only UPS processes ORM-D shipments by air. The United States Postal Service only accepts ORM-D packaging for products being transported via domestic surface.

Working With Amazon & ORM-D Products

Thousands of ecommerce businesses list their products on Amazon, as well as on their business website. And while the company has its own Fulfillment Center, there are some things it won’t take care of for you — and that includes labeling ORM-D packages.

The company stated that its Seller Central system is  “not designed to recognize Hazmat until items have been manually reviewed by our Product Compliance department.” They sent the following warning letter to a seller who was distributing a lithium battery:

“Amazon will move the inventory found to be Hazmat to a Hazmat area in accordance with local and federal regulations. Amazon will then hire an outside 3rd party company to come into our warehouse to process the destruction of hazmat inventory per local and federal guidelines. You will be charged disposal fees in accordance with the FBA Service Terms. I cannot authorize any credit, reimbursement or concession related to the disposal of any hazmat items that are found to be stored within our fulfillment network.”

Many cell phones contain lithium batteries, like Google’s new Pixel phone. However, Amazon considers the seller to be fully responsible for organizing and labeling ORM-D materials properly, as stated by its dangerous goods identification guide. Mislabeled products, as the above letter indicates, could lead to removal of the product and additional fees.

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