New rules for shipping to Canada could impact pallet shipments

If adopted, wood packaging materials must meet ISPM 15 regulations for heat treatment before crossing borders

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. If adopted, the proposal will have a significant impact on shipments on pallets.

While business regulation is out of favor on Capital Hill, this is one new regulation 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.”

Right now, pallets move back and forth between Canada and the United States without the special treatment that’s required under ISPM 15. This regulation requires that wood packaging material being shipped internationally be heat-treated to kill insects or larvae that could infest native woodlands. The proposed amendment, posted by APHIS on December 2, 2010, 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 ISPM 15 that apply to wood packaging material to and from all other countries. “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 US (both directions).”
According to CFIA, the requirements would be phased in between 2011 and 2112, with full implementation in place by the summer of 2012, although “no actual time frames have been confirmed at this date.”

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.”


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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