In May 2022, PHMSA issued a Notice of Enforcement Discretion regarding the use of non-specified tape for the closure of UN Performance Oriented Packagings. The Notice acknowledged challenges within the supply chain that had impacted the availability of materials used to manufacture various tape designs, and provided a period of time during which a non-specified adhesive tape may be used provided the tape:

  1. Is the same material as the tape in the original packaging test report;
  2. Is capable of demonstrating no diminished capabilities in yield strength, thickness, ductility, width, length, or adhesive properties; and
  3. Is compatible with the packaging.

This Notice expires on August 31, 2022.

However, PHMSA also revised a previously issued Letter of Interpretation issued on the same topic. Interpretation No. 19-0018R originally issued in February 2019 was revised and reissued on May 12, 2022. The revised letter indicates similar language:

“…Our response is revised to state that a change in tape from the originally tested package to tape with verifiable equal or superior properties (e.g., tensile strength of film or adhesion properties) that will perform the same or better when tested does not constitute a change in design that would require additional design qualification testing.”

Neither the Notice of Enforcement Discretion nor the revised Letter of Interpretation eliminates the need to compare tape designs specified in the original packaging test report and non-specified tape designs intended to be used for closures. Proper due diligence would require a company to compare tape specifications and ensure that the non-specified tape would have similar or superior tensile strength or adhesion properties. Further, the performance of the non-specified tape would then be the responsibility of the closer of the package, not the original packaging manufacturer or bearer of the certification. But the revised Letter of Interpretation permits the use of non-specified tape if conditions are met beyond the expiration date of the Enforcement Discretion Notice.