New packaging restrictions between U.S. and Canada soon to enter “informed compliance” period

If adopted, shipments containing bug-infested wood packaging materials could be refused as soon as this summer.

By ·

A new proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would remove the exemption from ISPM 15 on wood packaging material moving between Canada and the United States in both directions beginning in 2011.

Beginning in spring 2011, 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 wood packaging will be required to comply once ISPM 15 is fully implemented.

“If adopted, the proposal will have a significant impact on shipments on pallets,” says Gary Sharon, vice president of Litco International (, a leading North America’s source for presswood pallets. “Right now, wooden pallets move back and forth between Canada and the United States without the special treatment that’s required under ISPM 15, the regulation that applies to wood products shipped into most other countries.” 

Sharon adds, “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. 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.”

The proposed amendment was posted by APHIS on Dec. 2, 2010. The proposal would remove the exemption that currently allows wood packaging material to ship between Canada and the United States without first meeting the treatment and marking requirements of the ISPM 15 regulations ( that apply to wood packaging material to and from all other countries.

ISPM 15 regulations require that wood packaging material be heat-treated to kill insects or larvae that could infest native woodlands. “This action is necessary in order to prevent the dissemination and spread of pests via wood packaging material from Canada,” APHIS stated.

Similarly, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that it has agreed with APHIS to a “harmonized approach to removing the exemption from ISPM 15 on wood packaging material moving between Canada and the U.S. (both directions).”

According to CFIA, the requirements would be phased in between 2011 and 2012, with full implementation in place by the summer of 2012, although “no actual time frames have been confirmed at this date.”

Modern has previously reported that the regulation is supported by the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association ( “We’re in favor of it,” says Bruce Scholnick, president of the industry association. “Take it to the next step, we are also hopeful that there will be a similar implementation for all domestic shipments. That is a standard we have been fighting for.”

Scholnick says the proposal will have no effect on companies that are already shipping internationally. “They have a system in place to source heat-treated pallets,” he says. “They’ll just have to ship them to Canada.” For shippers not currently heat treating, Scholnick says the process adds 50 to 75 cents to a pallet.

Why is NWPCA in support of the regulation? “We believe the spread of pests primarily happens when logs or firewood are shipped back and forth, but pallets also get blamed,” says Scholnick. “If we have a standard that requires all pallets to be heat treated, even domestically, it will take that issue off the table.”

New rules for shipping to Canada
If adopted, wood packaging materials must meet ISPM 15 regulations for heat treatment before crossing borders

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Packaging · Pallets · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Hydrogen, the Future of Materials Handling
Large, successful organizations are integrating hydrogen fuel cell technology into their lift truck fleets and benefiting from lower operational costs, reduced emissions and improved reliability.
Download Today!
From the October 2016 Issue
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order fulfillment process and increased throughput with near 100% accuracy.
System Report: Brownells new DC is flexible and responsive
Pallet Usage Report: Pallets Remain Critical in the Modern-Day Warehouse
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Pallets: Supporting Product, Processes and the Enterprise
The smallest leak in performance or cost can bring a lean, nimble and speedy supply chain to a halt. During this 30-minute webcast we'll examine how Modern's readers use pallets to keep the wheels turning as they maneuver a road filled with sharp edges and potholes.
Register Today!
Modern Materials Handling’s 2017 Casebook Collection
The 2017 Casebook features over 35 case studies that put the spotlight on successful innovation...
Brownells: Designing for Efficiency and Growth
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order...

Industry celebrates National Manufacturing Day
Fourth annual Manufacturing Day is a grassroots effort by U.S. manufacturers to improve the public...
American Eagle Outfitters’ omni-channel journey
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true...