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USPS Imposes New Limits on Used Electronics

USPS Imposes New Limits on Used Electronics

Due to an increase in incidents involving lithium batteries and other hazardous material, the USPS is limiting how shippers can send such items and is requiring new labeling. It cited urgency of the danger to personnel, property, passengers, and the public and said it was implementing the requirements immediately.

“The interim final rule restricts the mail class that may be utilized when shipping pre-owned, damaged or defective electronic devices containing or packaged with lithium batteries (such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, power tools, etc.) to USPS Retail Ground, Parcel Select, Parcel Return Service or Ground Return Service, and requires new marking requirements for these mailings.” (In other words, items are limited to services that go by surface, not air.)

The Postal Service further explained:

“Mailings covered by the new requirements include used items sent pursuant to e-commerce or private sales transactions; lost items being returned to the owner; and items sent for repair, replacement, upgrade, warranty service, diagnostics, recycling, or insurance claims. For clarity, pre-owned electronic devices exclude those that are in new, unopened manufacturer packaging.”

The USPS also noted:

“To Ensure adequate visibility, the Postal Service will require that packages containing pre-owned, damaged, and defective electronic devices containing or packaged with lithium batteries be marked “Restricted Electronic Device” and “Surface Transportation Only,” in addition to any other applicable markings.”

In addition, there are new requirements for the separation of hazardous materials.

The new interim rule takes effect upon publication in the Federal Register on June 6, 2022. There will be a 30-day period for public comment, and a further final rule will be published that considers any comments.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

4 thoughts on “USPS Imposes New Limits on Used Electronics”

  1. Also I suspect that it has to do with sellers NOT always switching devices completely off when they have non-removable batteries – before shipping. (Likewise making a hole in padding so the power button cannot be accidentally pressed in transit.) Putting them into standby or sleep means that they can suddenly go alive in a confined space with no ventilation – leading to rapid overheating with a chance of fire.

  2. The “ inside a device rule“ just means they don’t want people shipping loose lithium batteries. But people are dimwits and misunderstand the rule. They make sure they put the battery in whatever device they are shipping. That’s not what it means. I think their unclear rule is part of the problem. If it’s a power tool battery the casing is a device. The battery management chip maybe the indicator lights. A power tool lithium battery is a device in and of itself. You certainly shouldn’t put it in the tool before you ship it. Separately in the box just like you find them from the manufacture. Duh.

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