09/12/05 Regulations set stage for environmental action
(Daniel W. Gottlieb)
Pallets and wood packaging
As of September 15 this year, all wood packaging material (both coniferous and non-coniferous) coming into the United States must be certified as treated to prevent importation of harmful pests. The regulation (International Standard for Phytosanitary Measure 15, or ISPM 15) adopted by the U.S., is being phased in from now through July next year. Approved treatments are fumigation with methyl bromide or heating to a core temperature of 56 degrees C for 30 minutes. Goods shipped into the United States on pallets or other packaging must have an official stamp indicating compliance (see box) on the pallet or container. If the wood packing cannot be separated from the merchandise, it will be shipped back to its origin, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency of the Department of Homeland Security.
Importation of non-certificated pallets (for use by U.S. shippers) is also forbidden. Exempted are manufactured wood, such as fiberboard, plywood, polywood, whisky and wine barrels, strand board, and veneers. The standard is being enforced by the CPB and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The overall impact on logistics and cost of goods is uncertain, since only about 20 percent of the imported pallets come from countries other than Canada, according to USDA’s regulatory impact analysis. Canada and the U.S. already have an agreement covering pest control in wood products, and according to USDA’s analysis pallet supply is fairly elastic .
Dr. Edgar Diamano of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association says that "the most obvious impact is the added cost of treatment, which on the high side is $1 to $1.50 per pallet." Most of the U.S. and developed country manufacturers are aware of the requirements and already comply, he says. "It’s the manufacturers coming from developing countries that have a lot to do. They may not have the capabilities and therefore will have a harder time complying."