General Pallet Information

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U.S./Canada pallet makers prepare for ISPM 15

The following is from the 16 March 2011 edition of the “American Shipper”.

Many U.S. wood pallet makers say they are ready for requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that will require all wood pallets moving between the countries to be treated in line with international
standards against wood-eating pests.

“It’s coming,” said Bruce Scholnick, president and chief executive officer of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Wooden Pallet and Container Association, in an interview. “Heat treating is a well regarded and effective instrument against non-native invasive species.”

The elimination of the U.S.-Canadian bilateral agreement on wood pallets was a key topic at the NWPCA’s annual conference in late February. “Our members are prepared,” Scholnick said.

On Dec. 2, 2010, APHIS proposed regulations to remove an exemption that allows wood packaging materials from Canada to enter the United States without first meeting treatment and marking requirements that apply to these materials from all other countries. The agency said the action is needed to prevent the introduction and spread of pests via wood packaging materials from Canada.

In 2004, APHIS amended its treatment regulations for imported wood packaging materials, such as pallets, crates, boxes, and blocking and bracing, to correspond with standards established by the International Plant Protection Convention’s International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 15. This standard requires these materials to be either heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and marked with the approved IPPC symbol.

APHIS said the less restrictive requirements for Canadian wood packaging materials were initially based on the premise that U.S. forests share both a common boundary with Canada and, to a reasonable degree, the same forest pests. However, a recent agency risk analysis found there are unique forest
pests and pathogens to Canada that have the potential to be introduced or reintroduced into the United States via the movement of untreated wood packaging materials.

Among the pests of concern for APHIS in the U.S.-Canadian cross-border trade are the brown spruce longhorned beetle, European oak borer, emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, European woodwasp, the fungus Ophiostoma tetropii, and vascular wilt.

CFIA agrees with APHIS on a need for a “harmonized approach” to ending the exemption from ISPM 15 on wood packaging materials moving between Canada and United States.

While APHIS has yet to set its final implementation date for the rule ending the ISPM 15 exemption for Canadian wood pallets, the agency said there will be a period of “informed compliance.” During this time, wood packaging material that is not treated will be allowed to enter. However, the carrier will be notified that the materials will be required to comply once ISPM 15 is fully implemented, which is expected after a period of 32 months, Scholnick explained.

“What is important for shippers to know is that during the ‘informed compliance’ period, if insect infestation is found, loads will either be refused or treatment required prior to entering,” said Gary Sharon, vice president of Litco International. “For companies shipping back and forth between Canada and the U.S., now is the time to convert to ISPM 15 approved export pallets and other packaging to avoid unnecessary costs and delays.”

It is the association’s hope that eventually the federal government will require all pallets — both those engaged international and domestic commerce — meet the ISPM 15 standards. “APHIS needs to make the global standard the only standard, which would help get rid of these various state quarantines that currently affect the pallet industry,”