Marine Immersion (BS 5609)

Labels are typically used for identification, warning and instruction applied to drums containing chemicals.

British Standard BS 5609 is a specification for printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive-coated labels for marine use, including requirements for label base material. It sets out various durability criteria including adhesive performance, print permanence and abrasion resistance, stipulating minimum standards for labels to be used in "Marine Environments”. 

BS 5609 testing is a requirement for self-adhesive drum labels needing International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) certification. Testing includes a 3 month exposure of labelled test plates in salt water at mid-tide.

Why test labels to BS 5609?
  • Internationally-recognised standard covering suitability of goods-labelling for marine shipment
  • Widely referred to when specifying an extremely durable label
  • Compliance is a requirement for self-adhesive drum labels needing certification with:  
    • Merchant Shipping Regulations
    • International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG)
    • Globally Harmonized System of Classification (GHS) standards 

Our specialist testing facilities and print expertise support BS 5609 compliance

Smithers Pira offers a complete, independent BS 5609 testing service using specialist, purpose-built facilities. More importantly, our experts are here to guide you through the requirements and test results offering professional advice and recommendations.

Contact us >

About BS 5609 Testing

BS 5609 comprises four parts. Sections 2 and 3 are key and detail the tests to be carried out on the base label material and printed labels respectively. Tests of the print method described in Section 3 can only be made on base labels that have already met the requirements of Section 2. Also, if a print method has been tested on Label A, it doesn't automatically follow that it will comply on Label B. For complete compliance it is necessary to validate specific combinations of ink and base label.

 Section 2 tests

  • Marine exposure of labels (carried out at our test site on the south coast of England). 
  • Dimensional stability under artificial weathering 48 hour peel adhesion to aluminium plates 
  • Peel adhesion after temperature cycling: 7 days at 60°C and 2 hours at 0°C
  • Colour fastness: exposed to artificial salt spray and sunlight

 Section 3 tests

  • Print key effectiveness: resistance to print removal using adhesive tape
  • Abrasion resistance: legibility and contrast after rolling in a mixture of sand and artificial sea water
  • Permanence of print: colour fastness and residual contrast after exposure to artificial salt spray and sunlight      

Appendix K tests (for labels already compliant with Sections 2 and 3)

  • Peel adhesion on a specific substrate* after 7 days at 23°C and 50%rh and also 7 days immersion in saline solution.
  • Peel adhesion after temperature cycling: 7 days at 60°C and 2 hours at 0°C

*Smithers Pira uses sheets of a natural ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) finished with a 360 grit finish to characterise adhesion performance against a typical plastic chemical drum material.

Expert help with all aspects of adhesive and label performance

Smithers Pira works with clients across the packaging, print and paper supply chains providing testing, technical solutions and advice. You can take advantage of our unique expertise-base and comprehensive range of ISO 17025 accredited testing facilities. We offer independent assistance on a wide range of issues.  

Label and adhesive performance services include:

  • Adhesive performance
  • Creep and heat resistance
  • Environmental performance
  • Peel adhesion
  • Product compatibility
  • Setting rate 
  • Shear resistance 
  • Release properties
  • Label adhesive tack