The transfer of destructive pests has been a disadvantage of international trade for centuries. The Norway rat, Japanese beetle and gypsy moth were all imported to the United States through international trade.
Pests can travel by many avenues. One common carrier is solid wood packaging materials - including solid wood pallets.
When you use wood pallets to transport goods from one country to another, you may also be transporting destructive pests. These hitchhiking critters may or may not have natural predators in the destination location.
As you can imagine, wood pallets + pests can equal a big problem!
International trade restrictions on wood pallets used to be very relaxed. Restrictions were limited to "bark free" wood with no large insect holes. As the spread of exotic flora and fauna began to damage delicate ecosystems, countries started implementing their own restrictions:
- First the United States implemented new treatments on wood pallets from China to stop the Asian Longhorned Beetle.
- Then China imposed restrictions on Pine Wood Nematode from the United States.
- Then Brazil, Russia, and Finland followed suit.
Each county required different wood treatments designed to protect against specific pests. Satisfying the different requirements became a logistical nightmare for shippers.
Developing an International Standard
In 2002 The International Plant Protection Convention made big progress in creating a uniform, worldwide pest standard to relieve the inconsistencies between countries: ISPM-15.
ISPM-15 is the acronym for International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15. ISPM-15 requires all wood packaging materials to be treated before they can be imported into any of the member countries. In 2002 ISPM-15, titled Regulation of Wood Packaging Material in International Trade, was adopted by more than 150 counties. This standard was developed to reduce the spread of pests through solid wood packaging materials.
What are your treatment options?
ISPM-15 prescribes two types of treatment for wood packaging materials.
- Heat Treatment
- Methyl Bromide Fumigation
ISPM-15 is currently being enforced in almost every major importing country in the world. After treatment, ISPM-15 requires that pallets are marked in a visible location with a legible and permanent mark approved by the International Plant Protection Convention.
How have your shipments or company been affected by ISPM-15 regulations? Share your destructive wood pest stories with us by commenting below.
Post by: John Clarke, Technical Director