Container deposit return system expands network of carriers, subscribers

More shipping lines and port stakeholders have joined the Container Ledger Account (CLA), an alternative solution for container deposit management in the Philippines, according to a CLA executive.

As of end-October 2022, a total of 14 shipping lines, shipping agents and non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) have accepted the CLA, up from the 13 recorded in August this year, said CLA general manager Elaine Kan in a November 9 letter to the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT).

Meanwhile, 298 port users and stakeholders comprised of consignees, freight forwarders, brokers and warehousing/container freight station operators are now subscribed to the system. This is up from the 207 CLA members reported by CLA in August.

CLA has also released 1,303 units of containers, of which 920 units completed the full transaction, an increase from the previous 554 units released and 301 units completing the transaction fully. The refund of the container deposit to CLA members averaged 1.4 days, higher than the average of two days in August, said Kan.

In her implementation update to PHILEXPORT, she expressed appreciation to the trade group for its support of CLA.

Early this year, PHILEXPORT and the Export Development Council Networking Committee on Transport and Logistics demonstrated support for the new system as a replacement to the controversy-laden container deposit refund scheme.

Of the 14 shipping lines in the CLA system, nine are main-line operators: BLPL Singapore, CK Line, MBF Carpenters Shipping Line, Samudera Shipping Line, Sarjak Container Lines, Macro Ocean Philippines, RCL South Phils., OOCL Philippines, and Namsung Shipping.

The rest are NVOCCs, namely, Concorde Container Lines, Federated Cargo Line, Lancer Container Lines, New Zealand Line, and Oceanus Container Lines.

The current CLA membership includes 56 consignees, 14 warehousing/CFS operators, 79 freight forwarders and 149 brokers.

The CLA is a patented system introduced by the Association of International Shipping Lines, Inc. as an alternative to the container refund practice in the Philippines. It seeks to remove the administrative burdens of companies and speed up container deposit refund to within three days after the shipping line’s approval. The CLA went live in the Philippines on December 1, 2021.

Under the CLA, the shipping line and the consignee need deal with only one party. Once the empty container is returned to the depot, the merchant or broker can make a deposit refund request through the CLA Portal ( The shipping line then releases the deposit, which the CLA refunds to the merchant/broker.

In brief, the CLA acts as a safe and convenient self-service portal and one-stop center for managing container deposit refunds, the portal said. The system offers several benefits, including boosting cash flow for the consignee/broker, and cutting expenses significantly for both shipping line and consignee/broker by reducing administrative costs.

At the same time, the CLA enhances efficiency by utilizing a single portal to streamline the various container deposit refund processes and practices of international shipping lines into a simplified and transparent process, said Kan.

Other supporters of the system include logistics organizations such as the Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines, Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc., Port Users Confederation of the Philippines, and Association of CY/CFS Operators of the Philippines.

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