International pallet requirements are quite different from domestic requirements. At the heart of the differing requirements is ISPM-15, The International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15. They were developed by the IPPC and affect pallets when shipped internationally.
Who is the IPPC?
It’s actually a what, not who. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an international treaty that was signed in 1951. A multilateral treaty, it is overseen by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO focused on eliminating the spread of potential pests and diseases that can affect plants and plant products in other countries.
Over 100 countries are members of the IPPC. In a collaborative effort, they worked together to write the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 15. ISPM-15 was officially put in place in March 2004.
What is Affected?
These regulations affect manufacturers and those shipping products using wood packaging materials, including pallets. This applies, specifically, to international shipments, not domestic or those between the U.S. and Canada.
What is ISPM-15?
ISPM-15 regulations require all wood packaging materials, including pallets, that are being shipped internationally, meet specific certification requirements. These regulations do not apply to those materials being shipped within the United States or to Canada but do apply when shipping to other countries, including Mexico.
Heat Treat or Fumigate
Requirements for ISPM-15 state that all non-manufactured wood packaging materials designated for export, including pallets, must be either heat-treated or fumigated.
For the heat-treating process, wood is heated until its core temperature reaches 132.8 degrees (56 degrees Celsius) and is held there for at least 30 minutes. This way, all pests that could be harmful to forests and plants are destroyed. Heat treating is considered to be best for the environment, but fumigation can also be done.
Once treated, the wood does not have to be retreated and can be exported and re-exported as long as none of the original components are replaced. Upon completion of the treatment, the pallet is marked with the international IPPC marking, showing the country of origin and the treatment method used.
Plastic Pallets are Exempt
Due to their natural composition, plastic pallets are exempt from ISPM-15 regulations. They are unable to host pests and do not require any type of treatment prior to use in shipping internationally.
This also saves time and money when it comes to production costs. Savings are passed directly to the consumer. When it comes to saving time, plastic pallets do not have that last step of either fumigation or heat treating like wood pallets do, so they can be put into use right away.
More About Plastic Pallets
Not only do plastic pallets avoid the need for fumigation or heat treating, they are also longer lasting than wood pallets. They have a lifespan of up to 250 trips, often lasting 10+ years, compared with the 5-6 trips for a wood pallet.
They are also lighter weight and can be made in many different designs for different purposes, in different types of plastic, and in different colors. They also nest, and that, together with the lighter weight, will save you substantially when they are being shipped back. To find out more about our plastic pallets, contact Plastic Pallet Pros today.