PESTILENT containers and the cleaning thereof is the subject of an updated set of guidelines issued by a joint group of industry leaders.

The International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association has recently joined the Bureau International des Containers (BIC), the Container Owners Association (COA), the Institute of International Container Lessors (IICL) and World Shipping Council (WSC), to produce a 2024 version of Prevention of Pest Contamination of Containers: Joint Industry Guidelines for the Cleaning of Containers.

With 250 million containers transported across the world each year all parties in the supply chain have a shared responsibility for stopping the spread of pests by keeping cargo and containers clean, the group says.

The group says the first version, published last year, “has become a valued source of guidance when it comes to preventing pest contamination”.

The 2024 update provides further detail on the concept of custodial responsibility – the inspections and measures that each party in the supply chain should undertake when the container is in their custody, as well as the requirement for the receiving party to inform the tenderer if the container or its cargo has any visible pest contamination.

“Each party in the international container supply chain has a custodial responsibility to make sure cargo and containers are clean when they arrive and when they leave their care. If we all live up to these standards, containers will reach their destination faster and our agriculture, forestry and natural resources are protected,” Lars Kjaer, WSC senior VP, said.  

“Experience shows that the introduction of new pests can severely upset an existing ecosystem, with serious ecological consequences and possibly billion dollar impacts on a nation’s economy. Regulators and national authorities play a central role in stopping the transfer of pests, but given the scale of global trade it is prevention – stopping pests from entering cargo or containers in the first place – that is the best solution.

“With the updated Prevention of Pest Contamination of Containers: Joint Industry Guidelines for the Cleaning of Containers BIC, COA, ICHCA, IICL and WSC are looking to further improve the level of prevention across the supply chain to stop the transfer of pests.”

A free copy of the guidelines, in English and Chinese, can be downloaded here: Pests — World Shipping Council