Joint Industry Publication Sets Out Guidelines for the Carriage of Charcoal in Containers

New Guidelines for the carriage of Charcoal and Carbon in containers have been published jointly by CINS (the Cargo Incident Notification System) and the International Group of P&I Clubs. Charcoal/Carbon is a black residue, consisting of Carbon and any remaining ash obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances.

Charcoal/Carbon is considered to be a self-heating substance – that is to say, it is a substance which, in contact with air and without energy supply, is liable to self-heating. A self-heating reaction may result in extensive heat development and fire. There have been a number of reported fires in recent years involving the carriage of Charcoal in containers. With global production of wood Charcoal and Carbon amounting to over 50 million tonnes per year, the practices set out in these Guidelines are intended both to improve safety during the carriage of these products, and to ensure that it is properly declared, packaged and carried.

Representation Image – Photograph by Ganesan Raghul

The transport of Charcoal and Carbon must be in compliance with the requirements set out in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code). The new Guidelines include selected provisions from the IMDG Code, together with additional precautions to enhance its safe carriage.

The Guidelines were prepared by a Work Group comprising CINS Members, including Shipping Lines, the International Group of P&I Clubs and the TT Club. They are available to download from the websites of CINS ( and the International Group of P&I Clubs (

Background information:

CINS – Cargo Incident Notification System

CINS is a shipping line initiative, launched in September 2011, to increase safety in the supply chain, reduce the number of cargo incidents on-board ships and on land, and highlight the risks caused by certain cargoes and/or packing failures. Membership of CINS currently comprises 16 container shipping lines, representing over 85 percent of the world’s container slot capacity.

CINS permits analysis of operational information on all cargo and container incidents which lead to:
Injury or loss of life, loss or serious damage of assets, environmental concerns. Data relating to any cargo incident on-board a ship is uploaded to the CINS database. The data includes information on: Cargo type, nature, packaging, weight; Journey (Load and Discharge ports); Type of incident and root cause.

International Group of P&I Clubs

The 13 principal underwriting associations which comprise the International Group, between them provide liability cover (protection and indemnity) for approximately 90% of the world’s ocean-going tonnage.

Each Group Club is an independent, non-profit making mutual insurance association, providing cover for its shipowner and charterer members against third party liabilities relating to the use and operation of ships. Each Club is controlled by its members through a board of directors, or committee, elected from the membership.

Clubs cover a wide range of liabilities, including loss of life and personal injury to crew, passengers and others on board, cargo loss and damage, pollution by oil and other hazardous substances, wreck removal, collision and damage to property.

The International Group of P&I Clubs is an Advisory Member of CINS.

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