India has entered into an international agreement on import requirements for Wood Packing Materials (WPM) - both hardwood and softwood - used in international trade. The objective of the participating governments was to develop a uniform standard to control pests in wood packaging material used in global trade. This standard itself is non-binding, thus it is up to the countries which sign onto the Agreement to pass legislation implementing the requirements set forth in the standard. Each country is moving at its own pace, a fact which makes it difficult to provide a firm implementation date for US exporters. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the United States will begin enforcing the international standard in July 2004 for all imports.
What is required? Under the new international standard ("ISPM 15"), all wood packing material must be heat treated or fumigated in accordance with the standard. Once treated the materials must display a specified mark developed by the International Standards Committee, which has been trademarked for this purpose. This mark is proof that the materials have indeed been treated in accordance with the standard. No further certification is required to assure compliance.
What is covered? The standard applies to all unprocessed wood or wood products (excluding paper products) used in supporting, protecting or carrying a commodity. This includes pallets, dunnage, crating, packing blocks, drums, cases, load boards, pallet collars, and skids. Please note that it applies to all wood packing material - not just softwood.
Effective Date -- Imports. We understand from USDA that the US will begin enforcing the new standard for imports in June 2004 - the exact date has yet to be announced. To prepare importers for enforcement, USDA will begin issuing administrative non-compliance notices to importers in April and May of 2004. These notices are merely advisory, carry no penalties, and are intended to alert importers that the wood packing materials used are not in compliance with the new requirements. USDA is hoping such notices will give importers sufficient time to get in compliance with the new standards by the enforcement deadline.
Effective Date - Exports. See chart below of latest implementation dates. Compliance for outbound shipments is mandated by the implementation dates of our many trading partners. The bottom line is that implementation for U.S. exports will be piecemeal, based on the actions of individual trading partners. We will do our best to monitor these actions and advise accordingly.
Informal enforcement has begun in July 2004. The Final Rule will probably be published in June 2004, and enforced thirty days later (July). Exporters of non-compliant wood packaging material will receive a written notice of non-compliance during the phase in period. It is not as yet clear when the phase in period will end, but exporters should expect to be fully compliant before July 1, 2004.
Canada plans to keep the same timetable as the US. The WPM standard became effective on the January 2, 2004, but will not be enforced until July 2004. Canada expects to have a 5-month phase in period allowing non-compliant wood packaging to be sent for treatment or disposal. Exporters of non-complying wood packaging material will also receive a written notice of non-compliance during the phase in period. Trade between U.S. and Canada to be seamless.
Implementation in July or August 2004, with a phase-in period allowing non-compliant wood packaging to be sent for treatment or disposal. Exporters of non-complying wood packaging material will also receive a written notice of non-compliance during the phase in period.
Have indicated that they intend to implement ISPM 15 and indicated a January 2005 implementation date. Important Note: We are hearing that only heat-treatment will be acceptable for WPM from the U.S. and Canada -- not fumigation. This is due to concerns over the pinewood nematode, which is found in North America. Until ISPM 15 is implemented, the current Solid Wood Packing Material certification requirements will remain in effect.
Implementation date of June 2004. The IndiaTreatments must be endorsed on a phytosanitary certificate. They are currently accepting wood that meets the standard but are not enforcing the rule.
Have indicated that they intend to implement ISPM 15 but no information available on likely date this will occur.
Implementation date currently set for 01 June 2005. Containers will be randomly selected for inspection to confirm wood packaging complies with ISPM 15. Failure to comply with ISPM 15 will result in the wood packaging material being directed for treatment. Important Note: Only heat-treatment is acceptable for WPM from the U.S. and Canada -- not fumigation. This is due to concerns over the pinewood nematode, which is found in North America.
Implementation date now set for January 2, 2005 for wood packaging material excluding dunnage. Implementation for dunnage set at July 1, 2007. Important! The new WPM standard meets the requirements of the existing European Union emergency wood packing material measures. So if you ship WPM compliant packaging, then you will meet the current EU standard.
Australia is now accepting the ISPM 15 heat treatment (Core temperature of 56°C for 30 minutes) as of December 1, 2003. Full implementation of ISPM 15 likely by July 1, 2004.
New Zealand began implementing the ISPM 15 in August 2003 and is currently the only country implementing the rule.
Have indicated that they intend to implement ISPM 15 but no information available on likely date this will occur.
Have indicated that they intend to implement ISPM 15 but no information available on likely date this will occur. Brazil will accept ISMP-15 compliant wood from countries that have it set in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS WOOD PACKING MATERIAL?
Wood Packing Material (WPM), also known as solid wood packing material (SWPM) and non-manufactured wood packing (NMWP), is defined as "wood packing other than that comprised wholly of wood-based products such as plywood, particle board, oriented strand board, veneer, wood wool etc., which has been created using glue, heat, and pressure or a combination thereof." This includes pallets, crating, packing blocks, drums, cases, load board, pallet collars, skids, etc.
ARE PALLETS ONLY AFFECTED?
No. The standards will require all dunnage, including skids or runners used to transport bundles of lumber, to be heat treated as well.
CAN I APPLY THE MARKINGS AS SHOWN EVEN IF THERE IS NO AGENCY OVERSIGHT PROCESS ESTABLISHED WITHIN MY COUNTRY RIGHT NOW?
No, each National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), the United States organization is USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is responsible for oversight of the program, the use of marks must be coordinated with the NPPO. Companies that use the marks improperly will be investigated, possibly prosecuted, and probably fined.
HOW STABLE IS THE STANDARD? WHAT IS THE TIMETABLE FOR POTENTIAL CHANGES TO IT?
The IPPC will be reviewed in three year cycles and the necessary adjustments.
WHAT LIABILITY DO I HAVE FOR THE HEAT TREATMENT PROCESS ON MY PRODUCTS? DOES PRODUCT LIABILITY INSURANCE COVER THIS PROCESS?
A manufacturer produced, heat treated and affixed a quality mark or grade stamp upon the treated wood packaging material. The material purchased and used for its intended purpose by a company that shipped their product overseas whereupon the port authority denied delivery due to the fact the pallet was not properly heat-treated and potentially contained a form of pest or bacteria. The shipping company then wanted to initiate legal proceedings against the manufacturer of the pallet for this scenario could only be a monetary loss as no physical damage occurred to their shipped product. In the above example the general and products liability policy would not respond, as there was an absence of "bodily injury or property damage." Furthermore, the policy excludes coverage for "Impaired Property." Impaired property is defined as a product that has a defect, deficiency, inadequacy or contains a dangerous condition. The policy also excludes the recall of products, work, or impaired property. Unfortunately the above scenario is an uninsurable occurrence. The shipper could bring suit against the manufacturer and the insurance company would have the "right" to defend but not a "duty to defend." There must be a physical loss to the shipper's property for the General Liability policy to respond. To change the above scenario, if it was determined that pests infiltrated the product and caused damage, and the proximate cause of the pests was attributed to improper heat treating, then the policy could respond to incurred damages, but this could be difficult to litigate since a pallet changes hands constantly. But again, the recall expense of the pallet would still be excluded.
Products recall coverage only covers the following expenses:
Communication Expenses (telephone, radio, TV, newspaper);
Production of written announcements (printing, stationary, postage);
Paying employees overtime in excess of normal levels;
Compensating persons, other than employees, needed to provide phone coverage;
Shipping, or handling or warehousing of the recalled product;
Disposing of the product that cannot be reused, but only to the extent that the risk has been specifically billed for such expense.
The coverage does not pay for costs associated with redistribution or replacement of the withdrawn products with like products, or the repair of the withdrawn product.
In synopsis, the likelihood of a claim or suit arising out of properly treated wood is minimal. But our highly litigious society you don't ever know and anything is possible. This is only an educated opinion, the Service Corporation recommends that you review your policy with your insurance professional and legal counsel.
HOW MANY COUNTRIES ARE MEMBERS OF THE IPPC?
The United Nations Countries number is 134 Countries. The IPPC is a convention of these members.
WHY STANDARDS OR REGULATIONS?
Designed to stop the spreading of exotic pest to other countries. In the past exotic pests have proven detrimental to key U.S. species. One of the more dramatic infestations resulted from the introduction of the chestnut blight. It was brought over from China 100 years ago and quickly spread through the Appalachians, destroying native American chestnuts and eradicating the species from major roundwood and nut makers.
Recently, Chicago neighborhoods have been clearcut in vain attempts to control the Asian Longhorned Beetle, which was brought into U.S. warehouses via packing materials. New York Central Park has also been heavily hit by several pests.
The new standards will standardize the countries into one standard instead of having standards for each individual country. It is also prevents countries using the standards to control or limit trade.
WHAT METHODS CAN BE USED TO SATISFY THE STANDARDS?
Acceptable treatment measures include heat treatment of solid wood components and fumigation of packing material with methyl bromide.
The official heat treatment program recognized by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and the IPPC calls for solid wood components (hardwood and softwood) of packing material to be brought to a core temperature of 56 degrees Centigrade (about 133 degrees Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 30 minutes. The product must be stamped or marked by a registered agency.
Fumigation program has been developed by the National Wood Pallet Container Association. The NWPCA will has as the national certificating agency t certify agencies to certify companies.
WHO WILL BE AFFECTED BY THESE MEASURES?
These regulations will not only affect pallet, box, and crate manufacturers/users, but also anyone shipping lumber over seas using solid wood skids and sticks.
CAN WE STILL USE UNTREATED MATERIALS ON SHIPMENTS BETWEEN NAFTA COUNTRIES?
NAFTA will allow transportation of goods between Canada and the United States without the certification marks.
However, NAFTA provisions do not apply to Mexico because of forest pests identified in Mexico.
WHEN DO HEAT TREATMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR HARDWOOD TAKE EFFECT?
On March 15, 2002 the IPPC adopted international regulations governing softwood and hardwood packing material. It will be up to individual countries to adopt the standards. Most countries plan to have their rules in place by the summer of 2004.
However the demand for products already marked is ever increasing as packaging material buyers build their inventories or convert inventories of treated materials.
HOW DOES ONE ACQUIRE A QUALITY MARK? WHAT IS REQUIRED TO MAINTAIN IT?
You have to take part in an audit program to receive the use of a quality mark. You may enter as a heat treater (if you have the capacity to heat core temperatures to 56 degrees Centigrade or about 133 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes) or as an HT producer (purchasing HT lumber to produce an HT pallet, box, etc.) The audits will be monthly and require records documenting heat treatment or purchase of HT lumber, sales and inventory. Auditors will come on site to inspect records, lumber and products. The audits are typically monthly.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO REVIEW AND APPROVE OTHER TREATMENT METHODS SUCH AS IRRADIATION?
USDA-APHIS is not involved in development of new treatment methods. The IPPC will review the standards every three years, so such treatments can be examined at that time.
CAN MATERIAL THAT HAS BEEN HEAT TREATED AND STAMPED BE STORED OUTDOORS?
There are not specific standards on storage. Many audit programs are requesting that heat treated components & pallets be stored in a separate area from non-heat treated components and pallets, for your safety.
DOES THE STANDARDS APPLY TO ALL SPECIES?
IS IT TRUE PALLETS MUST BE BARK FREE?
Generally No, the regulations have been through many drafts, and at one time there were requirements specifying debarked lumber (not necessarily bark free) within WPM. There was no scientific reason for this wording, since heat treatment should account for any bugs within the lumber or bark.
The requirements have an optional requirement for debarked lumber by individual nations. European Union countries have been supporting the debarking issues at the IPPC meeting. At this point it is unclear if these countries will adopt different standards.
IF I COMPLY FULLY WITH THE IPPC STANDARD AS IT READS NOW, WILL THE COUNTRIES THAT CURRENTLY HAVE REGULATIONS IN PLACE ACCEPT THOSE SHIPMENTS?
Each individual country must adopt their regulations that are consistent with the IPPC standard. If a country has a current standard, the current standard remains in effect until the country re-adopts the new standard.
CAN THERE BE A TRAVEL AROUND TREATER?
No. There must be a resident quality mark for each facility where the treatment has taken place.
HOW IS LOOSE DUNNAGE BEING TAKEN CARE OF?
There is no real guidance on loose dunnage. But the ALSC is giving the same advice that we gave and that is to board mark with the grad stamp, loose dunnage material, because it will eliminate any doubt in other ports around the country.
CAN BRANDERS BE USED ON MACHINERY TO BRAND THE PALLETS AS THEY ARE BEING MADE INSTEAD OF AFTER THEY ARE HEAT TREATED?
The American Lumber Standards Committee indicates that this is not an acceptable practice. The quality mark must be placed on the material after it is treated.
CAN A ROLLING MARK BE USED ON THE SIDE OF PALLETS?
Yes, a rolling mark may be used after the treatment process.
I HAVE BEEN RECEIVING SOFT WOOD AND HARD WOOD THAT HAVE JUST BEEN STAMPED "HT" ... BUT NOT THE GRADE STAMP THAT INCLUDES THE AGENCY LOGO AND PLANT NUMBER. CAN THIS HT LUMBER BE USED TO CONSTRUCT THE PALLETS FOR A STAMP (OR QUALITY MARK)?
No, the heat treated lumber must have the grade stamp that is audited by an agency prior to placing the quality mark.
WHAT ABOUT WOOD MATERIALS THAT ARE ALREADY ENROUTE? WILL THERE BE A "GRACE" PERIOD?
The standard doesn't address this, but our expectation is that there would be a phased in implementation period for each country.
WILL LUMBER SHIPMENTS BEING SHIPPED AS A COMMODITY IN ITSELF BE AFFECTED?
The IPPC standards only apply to non-manufactured wood packaging material used in transporting commodities.
HOW LONG DOES HEAT TREATMENT LAST?
Once components or pallets have gone through the heat treatment process, they are "heat treated" until removed from use.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL KILN SCHEDULE FOR HEAT TREATING HARDWOOD?
It would seem that most will heat treat the assembled pallets rather than that in cant form. (It may prove too difficult to saw and nail HT boards that have lost much of their moisture.) There are a few ways to prove that core temperature reaches 133 degrees Fahrenheit. One includes direct measurements of core temperature by placing probes into drilled holes. The other requires the use of live steam with a maximum wet bulb-dry bulb depression of three percent. Schedules have been developed based on specific gravity, lumber dimension, and chamber temperatures.
CAN TREATED MATERIAL BE RE-USED?
A shipper may reuse the wooden pallet indefinitely once it is stamped as long as there are NO changes. There can be absolutely nothing done to the wooden pallet - it cannot be taken apart/reassembled, a tiny piece cannot be cut off, etc. If ANYTHING is changed with the pallet, then it must be re-treated and re-stamped.
HOW DO WE HANDLE RECYCLED PALLETS?
Recycled pallets must be completely re-treated. If packaging materials are repaired the entire unit must be retreated and marked.
WHAT IS FUMIGATION?
Fumigation is the process of placing wood packaging material in a confined area and using a chemical to treat the wood packaging material that will kill bugs, microscopic organisms, and rodents. The only approved chemical that can be used in the United States is Methyl Bromide.
The US EPA is in the process of phasing out the use of methyl bromide. However, there is a special exemption for the use of methyl bromide for quarantine and preshipment applications. This exemption was finalized on January 2, 2003.
WILL THERE BE REQUIREMENTS FOR FUMIGATION?
The National Wood Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) is the national agency for fumigation standards. NWPCA will certify agencies to certify companies on the fumigation standards.
CAN FUMIGATION BE USED UNDER THE NEW INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS?
Yes, fumigation may be used to meet the international standards.