Buzz Off – How to Rid Your Pallets of Pests Prior to International Shipment

To reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of invasive quarantine pests that results from shipping products on wood packaging, treatment is required.

warehouse forklift lifting pallets

It’s that time of year when the air is abuzz with various pests that can spoil an outdoor picnic or cookout. But, those pesky vermin can do more than disrupt your party, they can hitch a ride on wood packaging material and spread around the world. Non-native pest infestations negatively impact forests and ecosystems as well as economies in the form of pest eradication and control. To reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of invasive quarantine pests that results from shipping products on wood packaging, treatment is required.

Treating Pallets to Prevent Pests

The IPPC (International Plant Protection Committee), which regulates the treatment of pallets traveling internationally, has mandated that both softwood and hardwood packaging must be heat treated to 56 degrees Celsius for thirty minutes or fumigated with methyl bromide.  This renders the pallet incapable of being a carrier of invasive species of insects and plant diseases.

Heat or chemical treatment is part of the ISPM 15 Standard, which is an abbreviation for International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures.  And, phytosanitary measures is defined as actions taken to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants. Once heated or fumigated according to the standard, a pallet can be stamped or branded with a mark of compliance. Heat-treated pallets will bear the mark of HT and fumigated pallets will bear the letters MB.

To Heat or to Fumigate Your Pallets?

heat treated pallets

Heat treatment may be a safer option because there are no chemicals used in the process. Methyl bromide may be toxic if handled improperly. The risk is little, however, because low concentrations are used and methyl bromide dissipates rapidly to the atmosphere. While methyl bromide fumigation is still permitted in the United States, alternative treatments that are more environmentally friendly are being pursued.

Ultimately, however, it is best to review your options with a reputable pallet specialist.  And, since the ISPM 15 Standard has undergone revisions, which can be complicated to understand, partnering with a provider experienced in international shipping will ensure your pallets conform to current requirements and that your shipment will be accepted at its destination world-wide. For more information about heat-treated pallets or to continue the discussion, please
contact us.

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